NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
December 16, 2002
The Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposed a rule in the Federal Register on November 27, 2002 to establish requirements for the collection of blood and tissue samples from livestock and poultry at official slaughter establishments when necessary for disease surveillance. The proposal also provides that those who move livestock or poultry interstate for slaughter may only move them to a listed slaughter establishment. APHIS will determine if the establishment provides adequate facilities to safely collect blood and tissue samples for disease testing in order to be “listed.”
APHIS already has a program for collecting blood and tissue samples at official establishments, including many of NMA’s slaughter members, and the samples may be taken, under an inter-agency agreement, by the official FSIS inspector, by a visiting APHIS official or by a third-party contractor. NMA members cooperate fully with both APHIS and FSIS in the disease surveillance program in full recognition that this is an important public health protection of the food supply. APHIS says that it has discussed the development of this proposal with livestock groups, although the publication of this notice in the Federal Register is the first information that NMA has received from the agency.
NMA has concerns that the new regulatory authorities that APHIS is seeking on slaughter lines, which are already meeting the challenges of stringent standards by FSIS, will cause confusion and disruption when two agencies of the same government department are applying space and facility requirements to meet their separate objectives.
NMA has called APHIS officials to discuss its immediate concerns and will ask USDA to provide additional time for comment and more explanation about the practical impact of the APHIS requirements.
FSIS PUBLIC MEETING ON RECALLS
On December 12, 2002, FSIS held a public meeting to provide insight on how recalls are conducted and to explore how to improve the recall process. NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow and John Bode of NMA’s legal counsel Olsson, Frank and Weeda were invited participants in two panel sessions. NMA members should contact Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the Olsson, Frank and Weeda memo on this meeting.
All participants agreed that recalls should not be the principal method for protecting public health, in other words, preventive measures are preferred over attempting to recover distributed product. However, recalls may still occur and the process should be as efficient as possible. Several ways to improve recalls were suggested by the participants including (1) FSIS be granted mandatory recall authority (though not stated by FSIS at the meeting, the agency’s position is such authority is not needed), (2) expansion of the scope and means of public notification, and (3) FSIS provide establishments with more responsibility on how recalls are conducted. FSIS posed the question of whether the agency should withhold the mark of inspection (i.e., not permit the shipment of product) while FSIS pathogen tests results are pending. Although there was no resolution of these issues, the FSIS officials promised to consider all suggestions.
NMA member Superior Farms celebrates 40 years of commitment to the lamb industry. Founded in 1963 in Ellensburg, Washington by Phil Cohn, it was privately owned until 1991, when it became an ESOP company. Its five hundred employees now own the company. Superior will celebrate its anniversary by recognizing producers, customers and employees that made this accomplishment possible.
Superior Farms is currently the largest processor of lamb in the United States. Over the years the company established itself as an industry leader. Superior pioneered branded lamb programs, vacuum packaging, and case-ready lamb. Superior continues the evolutionary process that began decades ago by expanding its packaging technology to include further processed lamb products and veal. New product development and food safety remain a priority for Superior Farms today as it has in the past.
NMA member Maverick Ranch has developed “Casa Grande Ground Ham.” It is sold in one-pound case-ready packaging, which extends the product's shelf life to 40-45 days. No oxygen is able to permeate the product through the entire system. In addition, Maverick Ranch uses SANOVAÒ, an organic wash, which kills 99 percent of harmful bacteria. Casa Grande Ground Ham is the first ground ham made available on a large-scale basis in North America. Maverick Ranch developed this unique product at the specific request of Publix. "We are committed to providing superior quality, natural products to our consumer-driven retail partners," said Roy Moore, Maverick Ranch founder and CEO. “We are very excited to team with Publix to provide Casa Grande brand ground ham on a daily basis in this area.” Visit www.maverickranch.com for more information.
The National Lamb Promotion, Research, and Information Board will hold its second meeting on January 6 and 7, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. The agenda will include a discussion of bylaws, policy and strategic planning for the formation of programs for the American lamb industry. For additional information contact Margaret Magruder, Board Secretary, at (503) 728-2945 or Kenneth Payne, Chief, Marketing Programs Branch, Room 2638-S, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Stop 0251, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 2025-0251; (202) 720-1115.
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s newsletter, World Bank IMF protesters recently blocked the streets of downtown Washington, D.C. and broke windows at CitiBank and other businesses. The protestors may be subject to litigation for their unlawful behavior. Theagitator.com reported that George Washington University law professor and trial lawyer, John Banzhaf, plans a class-action lawsuit against protesters who inconvenienced commuters. Banzhaf said, “Trapping people in their cars is not an activity protected by the First Amendment. Regardless of their motives or the validity of their cause, people who criminally interfere with the rights of innocent third parties should be prepared to face the serious financial consequences.”
Reassessment of HACCP Plan To Meet the Revised
E. coli O157:H7 Requirements
Space is limited to 35 participants, so register early!
EXPE EXPERT SPEAKERS:
WALTER (MICKEY) McEVERS and JOHN MILLER
HACCP Consulting Group, LLC
Fairfax, VA (703) 385-1989
American Association of Meat Processors
National Meat Association
North American Meat Processors Association
Southwest Meat Association
Eastern Meat Packers Association
The next course will be held March 2, 2003 at the Rio Suite Hotel & Casino, 3700 W. Flamingo, Las Vegas, NV 89103; (800) 252-7777 *$136 single/double
Last week Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, requested that USDA disclose inspection reports and allow his staff to interview inspectors at the Wampler Foods plant, according to a
Waxman is trying to determine if USDA ignored signs that Listeria was in the plant. He is especially concerned about the possibility that Wampler had been given time to clean the plant before the Listeria tests and thereby have the opportunity to minimize the chances that the bacteria would be detected. Waxman said if any notifications were given earlier than usual, the tests would have been “basically rigged.” However, USDA rules allow it to give companies enough notice to make plans to avoid shipping the meat before the test results are received.
Vincent Erthal, an 18-year veteran USDA inspector, told the New York Times that Wampler employees told him that other USDA inspectors notified the company about the Listeria tests in advance. According to USDA officials, at least one inspector had denied giving the company improper warning. However, Erthal said that on several occasions the company halted its night production shift two or three hours early to clean up before tests the next morning. In a Times report, Erthal said that the Wampler plant had persistent sanitation problems that could have led to the Listeria outbreak.
Erthal also said some of the new Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) rules “have a lot of gray areas.” Erthal told the Times that inspectors were still taught to step in quickly at any sign of direct contamination but with respect to broader sanitation problems, inspectors tended to wait longer to intervene out of a sense that it is the company’s role to deal with those issues, unless there are repeated failures. Elsa Murano, USDA’s under secretary for food safety, impugned Erthal’s claim. She said she expects her inspectors to be as aggressive as ever. She also said the agency would have acted if USDA had known before the outbreak that Wampler’s environmental tests had detected Listeria in the plant.
Murano added that the recall at Wampler was a prime motivation for a new Listeria-testing directive that went into effect recently. Under the new directive, if companies that make ready-to-eat products do not voluntarily provide the government with test results for any type of Listeria in their plants, USDA will expand its own testing.
U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is conducting an Export Credit Seminar on Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) building in downtown Chicago. Attendees will receive current information on credit issues as they relate to the meat export trade. For more information, contact Ann Spaeth in the USMEF Denver office at (303) 623-6328 or e-mail [email protected]. Space for this event is limited and will be filled on a first-paid basis. Individual registration fee is $100 for USMEF members and $200 for non-members. Registration includes breakfast, lunch and course materials. Information on hotel accommodations will be announced shortly. CME staff will provide an update to attendees and conduct visits to the CME trading observation deck.
NMA reports news items that are of special interest to its 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.
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
December 16, 2002
From NMA Government Relations Liaison Shawna Thomas
Industry representatives representing a wide range of interests from frozen foods to fish to meat/poultry meet and discuss problems with and solutions to COOL. COOL, the Country-of-Origin Labeling provision set forth in the 2002 Farm Bill and delegated to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to implement, is voluntary on those in the market chain for the first two years, and will become mandatory in September 2004.
There is lots and lots of talk about COOL. NMA staff attended meetings to discuss how it can possibly be implemented and there are lots of reference publications. But COOL still seemed so far in the future for those in the production pipeline. However, the kind of tracking and implementation that will become necessary by September 30, 2004 has to start early enough to identify livestock at birth to meet COOL’s mandate, a requirement not well understood out in the country.
With the publication by AMS’ findings of “the total potential of the burden of this program” on all required participants to be $1,967,750,000, (yes, that’s nearly $2 billion) everyone is starting to see how huge of an issue COOL is. That is almost two billion dollars that must be spent in the first year of the program to set up a record keeping system and then keep the records necessary to comply with the COOL requirements. There is no provision in the law about how this program is going to be paid for and the true economic implications are only hypothesized.
At the recent meeting of the Food Industry Trade Coalition, the price tag of $1.9 billion was of huge concern. It was also pointed out at the meeting that any calf born the day this article is read, the day this article was written, or the day the aforementioned meeting happened, will be subject to COOL in less than 2 years when it is sold for slaughter. That means that auditable records should have been started at birth. Two years from now, as the law stands today, the calf may not be sold without a birth certificate. If we bring money back into the situation, don’t forget that, though there is no provision in the law for funds to pay for COOL, there are possible civil money penalties in place for violations from the retailer to the rancher. Suppliers can amass civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation for each day they are found in violation.
Ranchers, producers, packers, retailers and everyone in-between should start working now to create an auditable record-keeping system if they are to be in compliance by September 2002. FMI represents grocers and retailers that are going to expect accurate information, and there is a domino effect back through the distribution system to the place where the animal was born. FMI reported that it will send a release to its members in January explaining what the COOL guidelines mean and what they need to do to be ready by September 2004. Information contained in this release is directly relatable to members of NMA. If you would like to obtain a copy of it, e-mail Shawna Thomas at [email protected]. NMA and the rest of the coalition will continue to work on this issue beyond the obvious question of implementation. We will continue to explore how changes can be made to a hugely costly law that defies rational implementation.
Access AMS’ findings at: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2002/02-29602.htm or http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2002/pdf/02-29602.pdf
Access COOL voluntary guidelines at:
The voluntary guidelines and questions and answers on the voluntary guidelines can be found at: www.ams.usda.gov/COOL.
We regret misspelling Dr. Stanley Prusiner’s name in last week’s newsletter.
Last week the United States and Chile reached agreement on an historic and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will remove barriers and facilitate trade and investment between the two countries. U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear expect to sign the agreement and submit it to their Congresses for approval next year. This FTA will be the first comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and a South American country.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service was an active participant in these negotiations and was successful in reaching a number of agreements with Chilean counterparts that will benefit U.S. producers. As a result, American workers, consumers, investors and farmers will enjoy preferential access to one of the world's fastest growing economies, enabling products and services to flow back and forth from the United States and Chile with no tariffs and under streamlined customs procedures. Information about this historic FTA is available on the USDA website at http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/chile/us-chile.html.
“Today’s announcement that the United States and Chile have concluded a free-trade agreement is good news for America’s farmers, ranchers and exporters who are eager to take advantage of the new and promising export opportunities that the agreement will bring. Under this FTA, our access to Chile’s market will improve for a variety of U.S. agricultural products, including durum wheat, pork, beef, feed grains, and dairy, horticultural, and high-value food products. Over three-quarters of U.S. farm goods will enter Chile duty-free within four years and all duties on U.S. products will be phased out over 12 years. While U.S. tariffs will also be eliminated over time under the FTA, the agreement has a provision that will help protect farmers and ranchers from sudden surges in imports from Chile. When the safeguard is triggered, additional duties will be applied. This FTA is another step toward this Administration’s goal of harmonizing market access abroad for U.S. agricultural producers and exporters. The agreement will give America’s farmers and ranchers and the businesses they support improved, and in many cases, new access to a market of 15 million consumers…Cooperation in trade in this hemisphere will benefit all of us. Today’s agreement moves us closer to that goal,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman.
BURGER KING FOR A BARGAIN?
Meatingplace.com reported last week that Diageo PLC has agreed to sell Burger King for the bargain price of $1.5 billion. The prospective new owner, Texas Pacific Group, reduced its winning bid, as reported in the December 2 Herd on the Hill. The consortium had originally agreed to the buy at $2.3 billion, but balked just weeks before the deal went through. Declining revenues as a result of the price wars between Burger King and McDonald’s likely played a large part in negotiations being reopened.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Diageo would play a role in financing the purchase. Burger King Chairman and CEO John Dasburg said, “The change in the financial terms, from the initial announcement in July, will reduce the company’s debt burden and strengthen its capital structure. This will better position [Burger King Corporation] as a healthy, independent company for the first time in more than 30 years.”
AMSA/NMA’S WESTERN SCIENCE CONFERENCE – MARCH 5-6
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LAS VEGAS, NV