NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 763-1533 Fax (510) 763-6186 h Email Address: [email protected] h

Edited by Kiran Kernellu

November 18, 2002




With Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House, consumer groups seem to have renewed their skepticism about the government’s commitment to food safety. In a Food Chemical News (FCN) article last week, Nancy Donley of Safe Tables Our Priority (STOP) was quoted as saying, “I’m afraid we’re not going to hear much about food safety coming out of government.” FCN also reported that Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called the Republican sweep “very bad news” for consumer issues like food labeling and foodborne illness prevention. Jacobson said it would be more difficult to get consumer initiatives passed through Congress and that committees would be less likely to hold “tough oversight hearings” to monitor federal regulatory agencies.


The Republican party’s reputation for being “pro-business” is at the heart of the matter. Meanwhile, multifarious business organizations are extolling the new Republican reign. A recent New York Times report detailed the implications of the “new power configuration” in Washington. According to the report, business leaders are revising their wish lists across the board.


“This historic election sets the stage for aggressive action” on a pro-business agenda, said National Association of Manufacturers president Jerry Jasinowski. Hot issues such as taxes, health care costs, personal injury lawsuits, ability of government employees to strike, and food safety face an evolving legislative agenda. Many groups are bolstered by the new demographics of the government. Susan Stout, vice president of federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, lauded the GOP takeover as a major win for industry, according to Food Chemical News. John Motley, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the Food Marketing Institute told Supermarket News that there is no doubt in his mind that this election will change things. “This election will make things easier for us.”


However, since the Republican majorities are small, “we’re still going to have a very divided government,” stated John Snow, chief executive of CSX Corporation and former chairman of the Business Roundtable.


If there is one thing that we can all agree on, it is that we want safe meat. Food safety need not be a partisan issue. NMA looks forward to working with any and all legislators towards enhancing food safety.




During meetings in Washington last week, Rosemary again had discussion with regulators and fellow industry groups about providing more information to consumers to urge them to cook ground meat to 160° F.  The generic safe handling statement, which is on all raw meat/poultry labels, is not as specific as the direct guidance that processors may use voluntarily on their labels.


Food Marketing Institute has available for its members rolls of stickers that state:  Cook to 160° F. to Kill Bacteria.  One of NMA’s members has a sunburst on all ground meat labels saying:  Cook All Meats Thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer and cook ground meats thoroughly, to a uniform temperature of 160° F.  They have this twice on the label, along with the picture of a thermometer marked at 160° F and 71° C. 


Cooking guidance is particularly important for raw product that is cooked directly from a frozen state, and there is no substitute for checking the internal temperature with a thermometer.  This was discussed at NMA’s summer conference, and several different statements were evaluated.  The most important thing is to get the information on to the label where it will be seen and the guidance followed, because heat is the only true kill step. 


See the August 19 Herd on the Hill article, “Food Safety Reform – A Farm to Table Approach” for more on this labeling issue.


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NMA Associate Director Etta Reyes attended the American Meat Institute’s (AMI) Annual Convention, “Innovation Showcase,” in New Orleans in October. The event included educational programs on meat industry research and technology, food service marketing, and government and public policy. Exhibitors also filled the halls with new and innovative products including washers, slicer/dicer equipment, pasteurization technologies, packaging and sanitation technologies, etc. Reyes visited with many of the NMA suppliers who will also be exhibiting at NMA’s MEATXPO’03 in Las Vegas, NV, March 2-5, 2003.


In the first week of November, Reyes also attended Pack Expo International and IEFP 2002 in Chicago. The show featured packaging and machinery equipment for every industry imaginable, including the meat industry, with its 1.2 million sq. ft. of exhibit space.  Reyes again visited with NMA suppliers. There were also numerous concurrent educational programs during exhibit hours. Chuck Yuska of Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute and George Melnykovich of International Exposition of Food Processors were gracious hosts to the thousands of attendees that participated in their show. 


Many of the suppliers from both shows will be exhibiting at NMA’s MEATXPO’03 (Suppliers’ Exposition and 57th Annual Convention) in Las Vegas, March 2-5, 2003 (Sunday-Wednesday) at the Rio Suites & Casino Resort Pavilion. The AMSA/NMA Meat Science Conference will be held March 5-6 at the same location. Mark your calendar to attend these events!




The National Turkey Federation reported that technological interventions in the immersion-chill tanks used in turkey processing resulted in a 50% reduction of Salmonella bacteria on turkeys, according to a news release.


"The National Turkey Federation and its members voluntarily worked with Texas A&M to conduct research to find the best food safety procedures to control bacteria on turkeys produced in our plants," said NTF President Alice L. Johnson. "The 'Chiller Study' provided the industry with some positive tools to use in reducing microorganisms on birds. As an industry, we are committed to aggressively researching innovative technologies that will reduce naturally occurring pathogens."


The 2002 "Chiller Study" also found post-chiller pathogen levels reduced by two-thirds from the original study conducted two years ago. The 2002 results will now be used to prepare industry "Best Management Practices for Immersion Chilling," an important step in pathogen control. The Salmonella performance standard set forth in the HACCP Pathogen Rule of July 1996 found a prevalence of 49.9% on whole turkeys.


To find out more information on the turkey industry's interventions to reduce Salmonella, contact Sherrie Rosenblatt, NTF's director of public relations at (202) 898-0100 x233 or visit NTF's web site at




FSIS held a Listeria summit today, which covered assessing, managing and communicating risks associated with Listeria monocytogenes. The agenda for the meeting is now available on FSIS' Web site at



FSIS will post its draft directive, Microbial Sampling of Ready-to-Eat
(RTE) Products for the FSIS Verification Testing Program, on its web site today. Comments are due by December 2, 2002. The draft directive will be available at:


Sunday, MARCH 2 - Wednesday, March 5, 2003




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Last week FSIS announced a ground beef recall for the Augusta, GA Shapiro Farmer's Market
establishment. The company voluntarily recalled approximately 54,000 pounds of ground beef products produced on November 5 that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The ground beef was distributed to retail establishments in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The potential contamination was discovered through routine FSIS microbiological sampling. FSIS has not received any reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.


Skylark Meats of Omaha, NE has voluntarily recalled 111,040 pounds of frozen ground beef due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The products were produced September 10 and were distributed to retail stores and institutions nationwide. No illnesses have been linked with the product.


The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-800-535-4555, is available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST) for your food safety questions. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.



Swift & Co.’s Greeley, CO beef slaughterhouse has put food safety in the hands of its workers. According to a Greeley Tribune report Friday, meatpackers at the Greeley slaughterhouse were
given new authority Wednesday to shut down production at the plant if they spot potential food safety hazards. Spokesman Jim Herlihy said, "We told our production workers that we want them to be actively involved in food safety." The report relayed that in the past production workers alerted a supervisor to potential contamination, and the supervisor determined whether to stop production in the department. Under the new rule, the workers can make such decisions themselves.




Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would not permit material from animals with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) or material from animals at high risk for CWD to be used as feed ingredient for any animal species. Animal feed or feed ingredients already on the market must be recalled or otherwise removed from the marketplace. FDA considers animals from CWD-positive herds, free ranging animals from the endemic area in Colorado and Wyoming, deer from the eradication zone in Wisconsin, and deer from any areas designated around any new foci of CWD infection identified through surveillance or hunter harvest testing, to be animals at high risk for CWD. FDA will issue a Compliance Policy Guide regarding this issue in the near future.




The Board of Regents of the State of Iowa approved the new Institute for Food Safety and Security at Iowa State University on Thursday. University faculty and researchers from the disciplines of agriculture, family and consumer sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and veterinary medicine will be affiliated with the Institute, which has already secured $40 million in support. The Institute is dedicated to protecting agricultural investments.




The Beyond Basics: HACCP Plan Improvement Workshop for Raw, Not Ground, and Raw Ground Operations will take place December 3-4, 2002 in College Station, TX. Co-sponsors NMA, Southwest Meat Association (SMA), and the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University have organized this workshop to cover flow chart review and evaluation, review of and scientific support of a hazard analysis, defending the selection of CCPs, support and selection of monitoring and verification frequencies, HACCP plan validation schemes, composing decision-making documentation, and compiling supporting documentation.


Participants must bring their company’s slaughter HACCP plans to work with organizers to improve their plans. Space is limited to accommodate hands-on interaction. 


Contact NMA for registration information at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected]. The cost is $600 for SMA and NMA members and $750 for non-members. SMA has secured a block of rooms at the Hampton Inn in College Station at a rate of $69 plus tax. Contact the hotel directly at (979) 846-0184 to make a reservation. Ask for the Southwest Meat Association block of rooms.


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NMA reports news items that are of special interest to our readers, and provides information that they may want to be able to access.  Below are links to the Federal Register, AMS, APHIS, and FSIS, respectively.




USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of October, 2002. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 57.5%, up from 57.3% in September. Select was 38.4%, down from 38.9% the previous month. And Prime was 4.1 %, up from 3.6% in September. 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



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

November 18, 2002




NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow visited Washington, DC last Thursday and Friday and met with various senior officials at USDA to discuss issues of high priority to NMA’s members.  Among those with whom she visited were: Dr. Garry McKee, Administrator of FSIS, A.J. Yates, Administrator of Agricultural Marketing Service, Donna Reifschneider, Administrator of Grain Inspection/Packers & Stockyards Administration, Dr. Elsa Murano and Dr. Merle Pierson, Under Secretary and Deputy respectively for Food Safety, and others.  She also met with representatives of other meat industry organizations, including Terry Stokes and staff of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association which hosted an industry meeting to discuss common interests.  Finally, she visited with staff at the House Agriculture Committee. 


Rosemary was joined on Friday by NMA Board Chairman Terry Caviness and Director Todd Waldman in various of the meetings as well as Philip Olsson and John Bode of Olsson, Frank & Weeda.  A teleconference to update members on her discussions is being arranged. 


Rosemary noted that the meetings in which she engaged were unique in that they embraced a strong, across-industry unity on food safety issues. 




National Ombudsman Michael Barrera invited NMA Associate Director of Regulatory Issues Ken Mastracchio to give testimony regarding unfair or excessive federal regulatory enforcement action take against members.  The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996 created the office of the National Ombudsman and 10 Regional Regulatory Fairness Boards to address small business concerns relating to excessive enforcement activities of federal regulatory agencies. 


The hearing was held in the Small Business Administration Offices in San Francisco on November 12 before Mr. Barrera and three Fairness Board members.  Ken’s testimony emphasized the fact that the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) literally holds life and death authority over NMA member companies operating under a Federal Grant of Inspection. Ken further indicated to the Board that “regulatory uncertainty” is probably the greatest concern of all.   Ken stated, “a lack of clear regulatory rules and regulations, and constantly changing interpretation causes havoc and panic to small business owners with limited financial resources.”


Mr. Barrera indicated that his office intends to hold an additional 20 meeting throughout the United States.  Upcoming meetings are schedule for January 14, 2003 in Utah, February 10-16, 2003 in Hawaii and March 25, 2003 in Tucson, Arizona.  If you have any questions concerning meetings in your area, please contact Ken at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected].  Contact Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of Ken’s testimony.  Mailed requests should include the newsletter date and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.




The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted the Department of Justice’s request for a stay on the pork checkoff collections on Friday, according to the National Pork Board. An Associated Press report last week relayed that USDA will appeal the order to stop the checkoff that becomes effective November 24.


The fee was found to violate farmers' First Amendment free speech and association rights in an October 25 decision. The National Pork Producers Council sued the USDA on behalf of small hog farmers, arguing that much of the money collected from checkoffs was spent to promote pork raised by corporate-owned operations. In a report today, National Pork Board Vice President Craig Christensen said, “Since producers began the pork checkoff in the mid 1980s, pork consumption has increased by 21%, research has been conducted on key producer issues and pork has become the fastest growing meat category in America’s restaurants.” He also attributed the nation’s profitable shift to being a net exporter of pork to checkoff projects. Pork checkoff funds are used to promote pork consumption, and finance research and consumer information.


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According to a recent press release from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Meat Institute (AMI) alliance “is like putting a fox in the hen house….The workers would be left to fend for themselves as the corporate-government insiders are locked in a big bear hug.”  The Institute responded that “this program will supplement the regulatory oversight that OSHA exercises at all times throughout our industry and coupling regulatory oversight with a renewed and energized commitment by both industry and OSHA is bound to create continued, positive improvements… this alliance is good for the meat industry, good for our employees – and good government.”


Our industry is near the top of the list for workers injury and illness, particularly ergonomic injuries.  NMA members are reminded to keep informed and get the necessary training on ergonomic techniques and applications provided by industry organizations.




A Federal Court in Waco, Texas has stopped USDA from releasing the names of sheep producers who participate in predator control programs.  Release of the names was sought by Animal Protection Institute, and Forest Guardian, each of which is a non-profit animal rights advocacy group. The activists sought to obtain the names of producers who were participating in an APHIS program involving the use of Livestock Protection Collars, which kill coyotes or other predators lunging at the neck of a sheep. The Texas Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation brought suit to bar the release of names, after USDA had agreed to release names as part of a settlement with the activist organizations. The new decision relies substantially on an earlier Minnesota decision, which barred USDA from releasing the names of pork producers petitioning for a pork checkoff referendum.  In that case USDA had agreed to release petitioners' names to the National Pork Producers Council,  Campaign for Family Farms v. Glickman, 200 F.3d 1180 (8th Cir. 2000). In  both the predator control case and the pork checkoff case, USDA had taken the position that it had to release producer names, because the names pertained to businesses rather than individuals. 


Interestingly, each Court concluded that release of producer names would be an abuse of discretion, and therefore each Court barred USDA's intended release of such names.




NMA and other industry groups are requesting that all steamship enterprises and the Pacific Maritime Association not implement proposed “congestion fees” and “non-standard charges,” as these additional costs will unduly burden the industry’s market position, and lead to competitors gaining in market share.




The Franconia, PA plant linked with the largest recall in history reopened last week. Production resumed last Wednesday with the night shift. The company has employed new safety measures since its reopening. For more information, visit




USDA closed Swift & Co.’s Greeley, CO beef processing plant on Friday, reported Reuters. This plant was linked to the second largest meat recall in history this summer while under the ownership of ConAgra, Inc. FSIS spokesman Steve Cohen said, “We felt that [their] interventions were ineffective.” But Swift spokesman Jim Herlihy said, “This is a regulatory issue, not a food safety issue.” USDA inspectors reportedly found animal feces, which can contain E. coli O157:H7, on some of the company’s beef products.