NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
October 21, 2002
The members of National Meat Association and cooperating organizations recognized the importance of making every possible effort to eliminate Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogen, and developed guidelines for their member companies to follow several years ago. Those guidelines are posted on NMA's web site at http://www.nmaonline.org/.
L. monocytogenes can be present on many different types of food products including milk, cheese, ice cream and meat/poultry products. It continues to grow under refrigeration. Thus, it may continue to grow during the refrigerated life of food, both in distribution and in the home refrigerator.
With good manufacturing practices and an accompanying environmental sampling and testing program, firms that manufacture food products that are ready-to-eat can provide the best assurance to their customers that their products are safe. NMA looks forward to continuing close cooperation with the USDA in collaborative efforts to make meat products as safe as possible, and to encourage its members to take responsible action when there is any question about the safety of the products they are putting into commercial distribution.
The National Meat Association (NMA) and the American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) are co-sponsoring a Listeria Intervention & Control Workshop, December 4&5 in Cincinnati at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel. Attendees have an opportunity to talk with workshop participants about the products and services that are available to help control Listeria in plants. Contact NMA at (510) 763-1533 for details.
PILGRIM’S PRIDE CORPORATION RECALL
The CDC has matched Listeria strains from the ongoing Listeria outbreak in the Northeast United States to non-product strains in a Philadelphia, PA Pilgrim’s Pride plant. According to a CDC press release, “The food product [from the Pilgrim’s Pride plant] had a strain of Listeria different from the outbreak strain. Of the 25 environmental Listeria strains fingerprinted, one matched that of the food product and three matched that of patients in the current outbreak.” A CDC representative told NMA that they still haven’t identified the outbreak strain on a food product.
The environmental strains matching the outbreak strains were found in a floor drain and on a counter top in the plant, according to the CDC representative. Based on food histories of patients in the outbreak, the CDC isolated turkey deli for further investigation, according to the representative. The press release states that precooked, sliceable turkey deli meat is the cause of this outbreak, however, the CDC hasn’t matched the outbreak strain to that in any food product. A strain of Listeria has been found in Pilgrim’s Pride products, thus prompting a recall and closure of the plant. Pilgrim’s Pride has issued the largest recall in history, in pounds representing production since May 1.
According to a press release, the USDA “is conducting an aggressive education and outreach campaign to consumers, particularly those at high risk, and the plant involved will remain closed until [its] investigation is complete and appropriate corrective actions in that facility have been taken to protect the public health.” See the October 14 Lean Trimmings for more on Listeria.
The National Meat Association, American Association of Meat Processors, North American Meat Processors Association, and Southwest Meat Association are presenting a seminar, “Reassessment of HACCP Plan To Meet Revised E. Coli O157:H7 Requirement,” the week of November 18th. For more information, contact NMA at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected].
Beef checkoff dollars are used to support a multitude of marketing activities, as reported in the September 23 Lean Trimmings. One of the latest checkoff-funded ventures was the “Beef. A Culinary Cruise” event held on September 30 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL. The imaginary cruise was designed to showcase beef value cuts.
Beef value cuts are new single-muscle cuts from the chuck and the round, which are often underutilized. Some examples of beef value cuts are the flat iron steak (top blade from the chuck/shoulder), shoulder tender (from the chuck shoulder clod), ranch cut steak (from the chuck shoulder clod), and sirloin tip center (from the beef round/knuckle).
The “Beef. A Culinary Cruise” was held at the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) Annual Conference. Over 600 attendees were on hand to “sample the flavor, value and menu potential of beef,” according to Meatingplace.com. Corporate executive chefs of beef suppliers producing the value steaks staffed food stations offering attendees the chance to sample eight different recipes using the four beef value cuts aforementioned. This is the second year that beef value cuts were featured at the MUFSO event. Additionally, this is the sixth year that the checkoff has sponsored the Monday Night Reception during the event. Florida beef producer Sid Sumner said of the event, “It was an important use of both checkoff-funded research and marketing efforts on behalf of cattle producers.” For more on beef value cuts, see the August 12 Lean Trimmings.
According to a report in New Scientist, the cell creates a voltage that can be used to power a circuit. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have been previously developed in inefficient and expensive forms. This latest MFC would cost about $15 and produces about eight times more power than previous MFCs.
Chris Melhuish and his team at UWE continue to improve their MFC. Currently, the MFC only runs on sugar cubes, which produce virtually no waste when broken down. The next step will be to utilize carrots for power. The team is using the MFC to power a small light-sensitive robot in its research. The MFC can also power domestic appliances and run a 40-watt bulb for eight hours on about 50 grams of sugar.
The new organic standards take effect today. While some have championed the new standards, others are less than enamored with the new regulations. According to a Denver Post report, organic farming has a become a big farmers’ game.
In fact, the top 2% of California organic farmers account for half of the entire industry’s revenue. They also dominate sales to supermarkets.
Some organic farmers are wary of the paperwork and fees associated with certification. This might be the reason why there are still 700 California organic farmers that haven’t received their certification. California has about 2,100 organic farmers.
While organic farmers may use alternate labels such as “pesticide free” or “chemical free,” they are still required to document their practices and pay a fee. Small producers who can ill afford these additional costs worry that large companies might consume them. There is also the concern that the rules will result in more organic food at lower prices, according to an Associated Press report. This would drive small farmers out of business.
Organic prices won’t drop right away, as organics are still but a small fraction of the food market. But, according to Dave Carter, chairman of the National Organics Standards Board, prices may drop when organics gain a greater share of the market. Until then, shopping organic will likely dip into the grocery budget an additional $15 or more per shopping trip. Learn more about the National Organic Standards at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/.
Burger King Corporation is slated for sale. The European Commission has given Diageo PLC final clearance to sell the corporation to a consortium of US investors. The sale cleared US antitrust hurdles in August.
RIO ALL-SUITE CASINO RESORT,
LAS VEGAS, NV
Booth space is filling up rapidly! Contact NMA to reserve your booth while there is still space remaining!
NMA reports news items that are of special interest to our readers, and provides information that they may want to be able to access. Following are links to the Federal Register, AMS, APHIS, and FSIS, respectively: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html; http://www.ams.usda.gov/; http://www.aphis.usda.gov/; http://www.fsis.usda.gov/
NATIONAL SUMMARY OF MEATS GRADED
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of September, 2002. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 57.3%, down from 57.6% in August. Select was 38.9%, the same as the previous month. And Prime was 3.6%, up from 3.5% in August. For a copy of the entire report, which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed/stamped (37˘) envelope to Kiran Kernellu at NMA or visit it online at
NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION
NMA - East: 1400 - 16th St. N.W., Suite 400, Washington D.C. 20036 Ph. (202) 667-2108
NMA - West: 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612 Ph. (510) 763-1533 Fax (510) 763-6186
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
October 21, 2002
NEW HEAD OF FDA
Last week the Senate unanimously confirmed Dr. Mark B. McClellan as the new head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the Wall Street Journal. The agency has been without a commissioner for nearly two years. Dr. McClellan, the top White House adviser on health policy, has received widespread, non-partisan support.
He served in the Clinton administration as deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy. President Bush nominated Dr. McClellan, a 39-year-old physician and economist, some four weeks ago. Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and head of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said, "Dr. McClellan has the training, the experience and the stature to serve as the head of the country's most important public health regulatory agency -- an agency that serves as the gold standard for the rest of the world.”
Dr. McClellan was educated at Harvard University and MIT, and has taught both medicine and economics at Stanford University. He is also a member of the Council of Economic Advisors.
MARKING MAD COW DISEASE
Scientists have developed a test to detect mad cow disease (BSE) even before cattle show symptoms of the disease. In an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, University of California, San Francisco researchers reported that the new assay is undergoing field trials in Europe. Dr. Jiri Safar, lead author of the study, said that the new assay has proven 100% accurate in identifying both normal and diseased tissue.
The new immunoassay system, which takes 220 to 400 days to produce results, is a vast improvement over current tests that take two to nine years to accurately detect BSE. Scientists hope to make the test even faster in the near future, as well as use it to develop tests to detect other diseases. Proteins similar to the abnormal proteins, or prions, the test detects for to indicate BSE infection are found in victims of the human disorder, Alzheimer’s disease. This new BSE assay’s basic principles can be utilized to test for Alzheimer’s and Type-2 diabetes, according to the Chronicle.
SHOULD WE LIKE IKE?
USDA/FSIS’s Technical Service Center maintains an “interactive knowledge exchange” program known as IKE. This is a reference source, available to field inspection persons and to other interested parties, on subject specific scenarios that field inspection personnel may face in the course of their inspection duties. It provides specific guidance on the scenarios and suggests the appropriate regulatory action(s) they may take.
There were 16 IKE Scenarios published in federal FY2002. Members may find several of specific interest, including one on establishment verification plan, one on Sanitary Performance Standards leading to an NOIE, one on Ventilation (aka condensation) under the Sanitation Performance Standards, HACCP 02 Procedure, HACCP 01 Procedure, and so on. IKE Scenarios can be viewed at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OFO/TSC/ike_interactive_knowledge_exchange.htm
E. COLI O157:H7 POLICY CHANGES
The Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) regularly holds meetings with industry and consumer representatives. The latest meeting with industry took place on October 15. The agenda included E. coli O157:H7 policy changes, HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), an update on the GAO Report: Better USDA Oversight and Enforcement of Safety Rules Needed to Reduce Risk of Foodborne Illnesses, and an update on the recent Listeria recall.
The issue that was surrounded by a multitude of questions, but not nearly as many answers as one would hope, was the issue of E. Coli policy changes. There were questions about how FSIS would receive comments on the policy changes and what they would do with them. One meeting attendee pointed to a puzzling aspect of the Federal Register Notice.
Comments may be submitted by December 6, 2002. Establishments that produce raw beef products, and that have not already reassessed their HACCP plans for those products in light of the scientific data on E. coli O157:H7 discussed in this notice, are to reassess their HACCP plans by the following dates according to plant size: December 6, 2002 for large plants (all establishments with 500 or more employees) …
He wanted to know why comments are due on the same day as the HACCP reassessments of large plants. The question lingering in everyone’s mind was, “If the comments are due the same day as the reassessment, does FSIS really have any intention of using or considering the comments?” Daniel Engeljohn, Director of Regulations and Directives Development Staff, said that the comments would be used to devise the best way for implementing the reassessment, but that these policy changes are in place and the FSIS has every intention of moving ahead with them.
Another unsettled question when it comes to the E. coli policy changes is how a grinder is supposed to verify each of its suppliers’ HACCP plans. Another attendee pointed out that if a supplier is allowed to ship meat from its plant, meaning it has been USDA inspected and passed, shouldn’t that, in and of itself, be all the verification the grinder needs. It seems obvious that if the suppliers’ HACCP plans were not valid, then the USDA would not allow its seal on the meat. But it was repeated again that this was not enough and the grinder must verify suppliers’ HACCP plans. Ways to do this include the grinder independently sampling the product before it is processed, hiring a third party to audit the supplier, or obtaining a letter of certification from the supplier. The last choice, the letter of certification, is tricky. Though you can use a letter as a CCP, since CCP’s must be verified, you would have to verify the letter of certification using one of the aforementioned methods, sampling or third party audits.
Meetings such as this point towards these policy changes being confusing, and also that the changes are a regulatory reaction and not well thought out. Come December there are going to be a great deal of changes and problems, but hopefully FSIS will answer some of the industry’s questions before then. If there are any comments you would like to submit to FSIS do not hesitate to send or discuss them with Government Relation Liaison Shawna Thomas, who can be contacted at [email protected], and copy NMA Director of Regulatory Services Ken Mastracchio at [email protected].
Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief called the COOL guidelines “flawed and unworkable,” according to a report last week in Meat News. He also said that the guidelines hurt the long-term interests of Canada and the US. He added, “We are concerned about these guidelines and their possible impact on our bilateral trade. They appear to place unreasonable demands on industry. We are reviewing the guidelines and consulting with stakeholders to determine the appropriate course of action.”
Both Canadian and American food companies have belabored the high cost and literal impossibility of implementing the guidelines. The Farm Bill does not provide funding to assuage the cost of implementing COOL, which has been recognized as significant to the meat industry, as well as others.