NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
October 28, 2002
NMA sponsored an “Immigration Issues” teleconference on October 22, 2002 to apprise industry members of recent happenings in immigration. David Barron of Houston-based law firm Alaniz & Schraeder offered guidance on such issues as internal audits, completing the I-9 form, examination of documents, expiration of employment authorization, handling employees that present new documentation, discrimination relating to employment eligibility, and responding to social security administration letters. He relayed that there will soon be dramatic changes at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in both personnel and the agency itself. INS Commissioner James Ziglar announced that he is stepping down in December. There’s been a 41% decline in the issuance of visas as of late. A streamlined list of acceptable I-9 documents is forthcoming. Recent events, such as airport personnel in Houston, TX being arrested because they had provided false Social Security information to the federal government when applying for security clearance also point to change in the area of immigration.
In complying with I-9 procedures, internal company audits are a good practice, no matter the immigration climate. Self-auditing every 2 years and whenever there is a personnel change in who handles I-9 forms is recommended. Copying supporting documentation is also a good practice, as it can be viewed as a “good faith” effort to comply with the law. An effective tickler system to monitor expiration dates of acceptable documents and I-9 forms is also beneficial to ensure that everything is up to date. It’s important to be alert for common I-9 errors, such as the omission of signatures, status not matching documentation, or too much information being listed. Only column A or column B and C are to be filled in on the form. These errors are glaring red flags during inspection. In the event that there are any errors, simply complete a new I-9 form and attach it to the old one, again to establish “good faith.” Be aware that other agencies besides INS review I-9s.
Employers are expected to act reasonably when completing I-9 forms. Certainly they aren’t expected to be document experts, but should at least give documents a reasonable scrutiny. I-9s should be completed by the employee’s third workday. It’s best not to ask for more or different documentation than the minimum. It is possible that going beyond the scope of the normal process in this way could be viewed as discriminatory. Barron said that discrimination cases are rare if an employer scrutinizes I-9 documents more closely, as most employees understand the process, but the possibility is still there. Whatever practices are undertaken, always treat all employees the same.
This practice of consistency in employee relations is also valuable in the event of any employee providing new documentation. You may still allow an employee with an identity change to work for you. The employee, not the employer, has committed fraud in this case. Again, always be consistent. If retaining the employee, a new I-9 form is required, and should be kept with the file with the employee’s former name. If the employer opts to discharge employees who change identity, discrimination charges are a risk. Keep I-9 forms for all terminated employees at least three years after hiring or one year after termination (whichever is later), but be advised that if errors are found on them during an audit, employers can still be fined!
For more on this topic, see the September 9 Lean Trimmings. Alaniz and Schraeder responded to calls from NMA members about workplace issues on the telephone as a courtesy service. Refer to NMA’s membership directory for more information.
The scanner uses wavelengths (colors) of light to illuminate carcasses. The reflected light is electronically analyzed to determine if contaminants are present. The hand-held scanners are roughly the size of a compact video camera, and can be used for online and spot inspections.
NMA offers “Guidelines for Developing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Environmental Sampling/Testing Recommendations (ESTRs) for Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Products” on its web site at
RIO ALL-SUITE CASINO RESORT,
LAS VEGAS, NV
According to the CCF report, “the mainstream medical community has long condemned PCRM's extreme agenda. CCF also reported that the American Medical Association has gone on record as saying that PCRM's recommendations “are irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans.” The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a resolution in June 1990 that censured PCRM, which involved the issue of animal use in medical research and humane treatment.
NEW NTF PRESIDENT
Dr. Alice Johnson has been named the new president of the National Turkey Federation effective November 4. She is a veterinarian with extensive food safety knowledge, and currently serves as vice president of food safety programs at the National Food Processors Association. She also served as NTF vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs from 1997 to 2001. She is to replace Stuart Proctor, who left September 1 to become president of the USA Rice Federation.
A recent PETA protest
against milk in Scotland resulted in grammar school children in Aberdeen
shouting "milk for the masses" and pelting PETA activists with
cartons of milk, reported CCF. According to The Scotsman, about 100 kids
surrounded PETA's Sean Gifford and his cow-costumed partner, and "drenched
them in milk for about ten minutes" before two female police officers
arrived to rescue the pair. PETA's anti-dairy efforts have also earned some bad
CCF reported that The Ventura County Star noted that the Federal Trade Commission had rejected a PETA complaint against the California Milk Advisory Board. The New York Post noted that Minnesota dairymen and their political cohorts braved pouring rain to protest PETA supporter Alec Baldwin's appearance at a fundraiser for Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN). The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that as Baldwin arrived, protesters held signs reading "Baldwin and PETA -- udderly ridiculous." Internet news portal Newsmax.com called the signs "a clear reference to Baldwin's efforts on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to outlaw milk." Additionally, The Toledo Blade editorialized recently that while PETA's campaigns might be "cutting-edge clever," it's still "difficult to cry crocodile tears for an outfit that writes checks to environmental radicals who burn down buildings, destroy property, fire-bomb businesses, and commit other violent acts."
NMA reports news items that are of special interest to our readers, and provide 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/
LOWER RETAIL PRICES
According to USDA data published last Monday, beef sells at lower prices at retail than previously reported. Cattle Buyers Weekly (CBW) reported that overall prices were as much as 18% lower throughout the year than previously reported by USDA. This means that producers’ share of the farm to retail price spread was at times 10% more than previously calculated, according to the CBW report. For the first time, USDA is using retail scanner data to calculate overall prices, which has confirmed the fact that the agency’s data has, in the past, overstated what beef actually sells for.
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 28, 2002
New FSIS administrator Dr. Garry McKee won’t take any junk – junk HACCP, that is. Dr. McKee told attendees of the American Meat Institute’s annual convention last Friday that the federal government has no tolerance for “junk HACCP.” He also stated that “A cut-and-paste, or even minimalist, approach to HACCP will no longer suffice…A HACCP plan, standing alone, is useless if all it amounts to is a ream of paper collecting dust on a shelf.” He went on to say “if you have a testing program and are getting positives, then you are doing something wrong. Your system is broken and needs to be repaired. The correction needs to be based on science and its effectiveness must be validated. This may require getting additional people, whether food scientists or people from other areas of expertise, into the plant to get it right. Just as there is no room for junk science, there is no room for junk HACCP.” The text of his presentation can be read at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/speeches/2002/gm_ami.htm.
On January 19, 1999 FSIS clarified its policy in the Federal Register on raw beef products contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. In short the policy identified intact (whole-muscle) and non-intact (trimmings) raw beef intended for the manufacturing of raw non-intact beef products, and contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, as adulterated. More recently the October 7, 2002 Federal Register FSIS Notice acknowledged the validity of industry testing protocols for E. coli O157:H7, including third party test results, which address raw beef materials used for the manufacture of raw non-intact beef products. In doing so FSIS registered its concerns with the control of and disposition of raw beef materials found to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
FSIS’s expectation is that raw beef materials represented as positive by test results for E. coli O157:H7 be segregated and clearly identified for special handling within a facility. FSIS also expects that any transportation of these materials in commerce be conducted with FSIS knowledge and oversight. This requires that the establishment notify FSIS to arrange for inspection personnel to oversee the loading and sealing of transport vehicles. NMA recommends the establishment notify its IIC, and copy the District Office attention District Manager, in writing. The District Office where the sealed shipment originates will notify the District Office where the destination facility is located to ensure inspection personnel are available to remove the government seal. The shipment will be accompanied by documentation completed by inspection personnel at the originating establishment. Documentation consists of the seal numbers attached to the vehicle and an inventory of product sealed in the container. If you have any questions or comments concerning this policy please contact Ken Mastracchio at 510-763-1533 or [email protected].
USDA has prepared common sense recommendations for producers, food processors, and meal providers to help keep America’s food safe, which can be viewed on the Web at: http://www.usda.gov/homelandsecurity/homeland.html.
Also, NMA provided members with a Crisis management binder to help them prepare for any kind of emergency that may occur. Members should update it and keep it handy for any such occasion.
The ABCs of the USDA guidelines are as follows:
BE AWARE – Know who your local law enforcement officials are and how to contact them. Identify areas that may be particularly susceptible to intrusion or tampering.
BE BOLD – Train all your employees on security measures. Establish systems to increase vigilance in protecting our food supply.
BE CAREFUL – Control access to data processing system, supplies, and heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. Add extra security guards, cameras and lights.
BE DILIGENT – Secure all doors, windows and vents, water sources and storage tanks. Monitor all deliveries and maintenance.
BE ENTERPRISING – Screen all potential employees; check background and references. Be sure that employees know emergency contact information and evacuation procedures.
BE FOCUSED – Require photo ID and escort visitors while in your plant. Watch for any suspicious activity or unusual actions and report them to your local officials.
AMS issued voluntary guidelines for country-of-origin labeling for retailers of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, and peanuts, as mandated by the 2002 Farm Bill. The voluntary guidelines became effective upon publication October 11. They are voluntary for the time being, however the 2002 Farm Bill requires that AMS promulgate regulations for mandatory country-of-origin labeling of the covered commodities by September 30, 2004. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the Federal Register notice and Olsson, Frank and Weeda memorandum on the guidelines. Comments on the guidelines should be submitted to AMS by April 9, 2003. The mandatory labeling requirement likely will be based on the voluntary guidelines and any comments received by AMS on the voluntary guidelines. NMA issued comments in a press release earlier this month, which can be viewed at http://www.nmaonline.org/files/pr10.10.02 (COOL).doc.
NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow said: “For better or worse, the new “voluntary” guidelines show the major flaws in the legislation which will make mandatory regulations unworkable. One of the key problems with the new guidelines are their prescripts for labeling products which have more then one country-of-origin, suggesting that statements with multiple country sources will be highly confusing to consumers and will generate more litigation than information.” A sleeper in the new guidelines is the mandatory requirement for commodity identification and record keeping. This provision means that livestock producers will have to create and maintain auditable records identifying the origin of every animal they own. These records will have to be maintained for a minimum of two years. The bottom line is that the new Farm Bill provisions will apparently cause the application of livestock ID and audit trail requirements to producers substantially before label information can be supported at the retail counter for consumers.
Retailers must inform final consumers at the point of sale of the country-of-origin of any covered commodity. Covered commodities are defined as ground or muscle cuts of beef, lamb, or pork; farm-raised or wild fish; perishable agricultural commodities; and peanuts. Any domestic or foreign product falling into one of these categories, with limited exceptions, must be labeled accordingly. A retailer need not inform final consumers of the country-of-origin for a covered commodity that is included as an “ingredient in a processed food item.” The guidelines define “retailer” as any person who is a dealer engaged in the business of selling any perishable agricultural commodity (i.e., fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables) solely at retail with an invoice value in any calendar year of more than $230,000. This definition excludes fish markets and small grocery stores that either do not purchase fruit and vegetables or purchase them at a level below the specified dollar volume. Food service establishments (e.g., restaurants, cafeterias) are exempt from the guidelines. A processed food item is one that is either a combination of ingredients that includes a covered commodity but the identity of the processed food item is different from that of the covered commodity, or a materially changed covered commodity (i.e., a single or principal ingredient processed food item). Following are examples of products AMS believes would qualify under an exemption: whole muscle beef, lamb, and pork (ham, raw corned beef brisket, restructured beefsteaks, and ready-to-cook Beef Wellington) and ground beef, ground lamb, and ground pork (ground beef with vegetable protein, cooked ground beef crumbles, bratwurst, fresh pork sausage, lamb sausage, and a meal kit that includes ground beef and other ingredients). Regarding ground meat products in general, the guidelines indicate that AMS will consider any ground beef, ground pork, or ground lamb that includes “added water, cereal, soy derivatives, or other extenders” or “salt, sweetening agents, flavorings, spices, or other seasoning added” to be exempt from the country-of-origin requirements. This exemption flows from previously published Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) standards that preclude products containing these items from being labeled as ground meats. Certain ground products, which have been exempted from labeling as ground meat under FSIS standards, will be exempted from country-of-origin requirements.
Retailers must make available to customers information regarding the country-of-origin via a label, mark, stamp, placard, or “other clear and visible sign” on the covered commodity. The identification may be made on the package, display, holding unit, or bin containing the commodity at the point of consumer sale. If an individually labeled commodity already bears country-of-origin markings, retailers need not provide any additional information concerning the product’s origin. The guidelines allow retailers to use commonly understood labeling to identify country-of-origin of a covered commodity. For example, “U.K.” and “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” are all allowed. Similarly, AMS will permit covered commodities meeting the guidelines for a “United States Country-of-Origin” may be labeled by any commonly understood designations such as “Country-of-Origin -- United States.” In order to label a product as having the United States as its country-of-origin, there are different standards for different covered commodities. In the case of beef, lamb, and pork products, the meat must be derived exclusively from an animal that is born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States. With limited exceptions for products raised in Alaska or Hawaii, all three criteria must be met in order for the product to be properly labeled with the United States as its country-of-origin. Where these production processes are performed in different nations, the guidelines indicate that each location must be identified. Product labels will vary accordingly as the circumstances differ. As discussed above, those covered commodities produced in both foreign countries and the United States must be labeled by the retailer identifying which production processes occurred in a foreign country and which production processes occurred in the United States, up to the point that the country-of-origin definition was determined.
For products that consist of blended or mixed raw materials, the retailer must label the product to indicate the country-of-origin for each included ingredient in descending order of prominence by weight. In the case of a product that contains individual ingredients that can be separately identified, the retailer must label the product to individually identify the country-of-origin of each ingredient. The Farm Bill does not require producers to label products in accordance with the country-of-origin requirements. When the mandatory labeling program takes effect, any person who produces, prepares, stores, handles, or distributes a covered commodity for retail sale will be required to maintain a verifiable record keeping audit trail. These parties will be required to maintain records concerning their products for a period of two years. During this time, these records may be inspected to verify a product’s origin. Willful failure to maintain the required records is punishable by fines, civil penalties, and/or cease and desist orders.