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

December 9, 2002




“We believe it is very, very important to recognize that the stated overall objective of Federal Register Notice 00-022N, that new scientific data on the prevalence of E. coli O157: H7 requires those handling beef to reassess their HACCP plans to determine whether it is a hazard reasonably likely to occur in their production process, and then design their plan to address such a hazard, in the real world, is an unachievable objective with today’s technology without the inclusion of the only definitive kill step – heating to 160° F., a step that is traditionally completed at the final food preparation step.


“The Notice speaks to the issue of reducing the hazard to a non-detectable level, but it must be remembered that with the advancement of science, detection to the millionth part becomes detection to the billionth part, and the fallacies of establishing such a moving target are well demonstrated in the scientific literature with the application of the Delaney amendment to the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.


“Despite the misgivings that we may have in the design of the objective, NMA and its members have worked diligently, and will continue to work diligently to do everything that is possible to ensure that their beef products are not contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.  In an earlier Notice, published November 28, 1997, FSIS stated its position on Livestock Carcasses and Poultry Carcasses Contaminated with Visible Fecal Material and provided: Notice on complying with food safety standards under the HACCP system regulations. In the Summary statement, FSIS informed the industry that it viewed “its ‘zero tolerance’ for visible fecal material as a food safety standard.” It went on to state that: “Fecal material is a vehicle for microbial pathogens, and microbiological contamination is a food safety hazard that is reasonably likely to occur in the slaughter production process.” It reiterated that in controlling microbiological contamination, a HACCP for slaughter must be designed, among other things, to ensure that, by the point of post-mortem inspection of livestock carcasses or when poultry carcasses enter the chilling tank, no visible fecal material is present.”


“We believe that there are additional new opportunities presently under discussion that will further facilitate the ability to meet this standard, and as FSIS appropriately stated, the “zero tolerance” standard for fecal is an integral step of reducing incidental microbiological contamination. NMA, in conjunction with Southwest Meat Association, is developing Standard Sanitary Dressing Procedures for Beef Slaughter operations, and will make these available in the near future. They will serve as a basic model for slaughter firms, large and small, to improve their practical, hands-on ability to meet the highest standards achievable for sanitary dressing.


“Finally, while FSIS invited comments by December 7 on the matters presented in its October 7 Notice, at the same time it required reassessment compliance for large plants by the same date. Concurrence of the date to receive comments and compliance is an indication that FSIS, no matter what the comments, has no intention of making changes in its stated policy; this attitude suggests that it continues to cling to what were the traditional characteristics of its “command and control” authoritarian position, rather than an application of the new philosophy that motivated the concept of a cooperative effort behind the 1996 HACCP Regulation to seek mutual food safety goals through a cooperative effort. This about face of the regulatory authority is disappointing.” NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the comments in entirety.




Members may have had difficulty reaching NMA by telephone, fax and e-mail beginning about noon last Friday and we regret any inconvenience. As soon as staff realized that telephone connections were dead, we contacted the service provider. It took about two hours for them to locate where the connection was severed and repair it. Again, we apologize.




Harper’s Index for November indicated that the average number of tons of meat recalled by U.S. producers each year since 1994 is 8,500. In light of the fact that millions of pounds of meat are produced each day in the US, it may be that contamination is a hazard not so reasonably likely to occur.



The benefits of agricultural research and production efficiencies are evident in our food costs. The American Farm Bureau Federation reported that the average cost of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for a gathering of 10 people decreased 48 cents this year from $35.04 in 2001 to $34.56. This is only the second time in 10 years that the cost has dropped, based on the federation's annual survey. The biggest factor was a 2 cent/lb., or 32-cent drop, in the price of a 16 lb. turkey. Our food costs continue to be incredibly low, a fraction of our living costs and income.  


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On November 27, 2002, FSIS issued Directive 6700.1, which provides instructions to inspection personnel on how to enforce the agency’s final rule, “Retained Water in Raw Meat and Poultry Products.” The final rule becomes effective on January 9, 2003. The final Directive is similar to the Draft Directive that FSIS issued in October, but it does clarify several issues that were in the Draft Directive. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the directive or the Olsson, Frank & Weeda memo on this topic.


Last week the Associated Press (AP) reported that a fourth cruise ship was contaminated by a Norwalk-like virus. Reportedly, over a hundred passengers fell ill aboard the Oceana with symptoms consistent with a Norwalk-like virus. The Oceana, operated by P&O Cruises of Great Britain, became the fourth cruise ship to report an outbreak of such a stomach ailment in recent weeks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was cited as saying that the Oceana reported that 114 passengers and three crew members have been treated for a virus. A CDC spokesman said the symptoms aboard the Oceana are similar to those of the virus that recently plagued Holland America's Amsterdam, Carnival Cruise Lines' Fascination and Disney Cruise Line's Magic. The incident is under investigation by federal health officials.


According to a former epidemiologist with CDC's epidemic intelligence service, while Norwalk-like viruses are Usually considered transmissible by the "fecal-oral" route between humans, there have been strong suggestions in recent outbreaks that it is also transmitted via ingestion of contaminated food, water and shellfish. Adequate cooking recommendations for shellfish would likely help in preventing some illnesses.




USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has estimated that the annual reporting and record-keeping cost for country-of-origin labeling could reach nearly $2 billion and require nearly 60 million work hours in the first year, according to an ASI Weekly report. AMS believes that an estimated two million producers, food handlers and retailers will take part in the voluntary program during year one, and has based the costs accordingly. Costs were calculated by multiplying the participants by the time and cost per hour for developing a record-keeping system as well as maintaining the required records. The notice is available on the Federal Register at the following addresses: or


With estimated cost like these, and no provision for funds to help with them in the Farm Bill, it’s no surprise that there have been calls to repeal COOL. In a Retailwire story today, Mark Boyer of Brain Trust said, “The Country of Origin Labeling issue is broader than it appears. The legislation would require that auditable records of every animal slaughtered be kept at the final point of distribution for at least two years. This includes beef, pork, lamb, fish and shellfish, but not poultry.” He added, “80% of beef cattle in the U.S. are held in herds of less than 30 head. These are not sophisticated ranching operations that will want to or have the resources to develop audit trails on each animal. Tracking the approximately 35 million cattle that are processed annually and keeping copies of those records at store level is not something the retailers or suppliers are even remotely prepared to do. The costs to this process will ultimately be borne by the consumer. As I understand it, the legislation was not written to protect the food supply as much as it was to protect a handful of ranchers who didn't want to see Canadian and Mexican cattle driving down the market price of their own herds. And the law doesn't apply to foodservice, only the retail supermarket. If the consumer is truly worried about where the food they eat comes from, why shouldn't this apply to foodservice? At the end of the day, I believe the consumer[s] [are] looking for food that tastes good and satisfies their budget needs. Knowing where it came from is not going to change their purchase/consumption habits.”


The American Lamb Council (ALC) recently debuted its new lamb web site,, according to ASI Weekly. The site offers information about choosing the right wine for a variety of lamb entrées, lamb recipes, tips for purchasing and storing American lamb, explanations of some popular cuts, where to buy lamb, and much more. The Web site replaced ALC's former lamb web site,


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A New York Times article last week deliberated on the safety of U.S. venison while the spread of Chronic Wasting disease (CWD) abounds. Earlier this month Consumer Reports on Health, a publication of Consumers Union, stated, “eating deer and elk may be risky.” The Consumer Reports on Health article said, “test-tube experiments with prions have shown that human infection is theoretically possible.” In fact, government agency warnings indicate a “better safe than sorry” approach to this issue.


According to a recent Science News article, nobody knows how the disease arose. “In the realm of wildlife diseases, there’s a lot we don’t know-believe me,” said Elizabeth Williams, a wildlife pathologist at the University of Wyoming who discovered CWD while she was a graduate student. She first thought it to be scrapie, a closely related brain-wasting disease. Patrick Bosque, a neurologist and prion researcher at the Denver Health Medical Center reportedly doesn’t know of a reliable experiment to see if prion diseases will infect people. The basics of transmission aren’t fully understood. Prions are known cause brain-wasting diseases, but what causes these normal brain proteins to fold into different forms is still a mystery. These warped prions corrupt the normal prions, sometimes in different ways to create strains, and perpetuate the abnormalities.


Experiments to determine if animal-to-animal transmission is possible result in further uncertainty. Some animals prone to scrapie developed the disease when their brains were injected with liquefied brain tissue of diseased animals, and some did not. The kicker is that the prion diseases can incubate. Hamir Amir of the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA, who performed these experiments, and Williams note that prion brain diseases can take many years to show up.


According to The Observer, muscle and flesh of cattle can contain deadly levels of prions that cause a disease related to CWD, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or vCJD. Stanley Prisoner, who received the Nobel Prize for discovering that prions cause degenerative brain diseases, stated that experiments at the University of California, San Francisco showed that mice with scrapie had high concentrations of prions in their muscles, particularly the hind legs. “It remains to be seen if that is mirrored in the hind legs of cattle or sheep,” he said. “These are just mouse models, but they raise the obvious worry that cows and sheep could be similarly affected.”


The Department of Game, Fish and Parks in South Dakota reported a Black Hills deer as the third positive CWD test for a free-roaming or wild animal in the state. So far, the department has submitted 1,600 deer and elk specimens for testing. Of the 150 results obtained, this is the first positive. Due to the large work load of the few labs that test for CWD, results often take three months or more. The department is waiting for further test results to determine prevalence so that it can make plans to manage CWD.




On December 2, 2002, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued Directive 7160.3, which provides instructions to inspection personnel about the sampling of comminuted beef produced from Advanced Meat Recovery (AMR) systems, and on the actions inspection program personnel will take if such product contains spinal cord.  On the same day, the agency issued Notice 55-02, which provides instructions to inspection personnel about the “Use of Microbial Pathogen Computer Modeling in HACCP Plans” and guidance material about such modeling programs.  These directives are available at and, respectively. Contact Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the Olsson, Frank & Weeda memorandums.




Reassessment of HACCP Plan To Meet the Revised

E. coli O157:H7 Requirements

JANUARY 9, 2003

Los Angeles, CA


Space is limited to 35 participants, so register early!





HACCP Consulting Group, LLC

Fairfax, VA (703) 385-1989


Sponsored by:

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


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NMA reports news items that are of special interest to our readers, and provide information that they may want to be able to access. 

Below are links to the Federal Register, AMS, APHIS, and FSIS, respectively.



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 9, 2002




USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) has scheduled a public meeting, Improving the Recall Process, this week to be held Thursday at the Washington Plaza Hotel, Washington, DC. The meeting will include presentations by FSIS and other agencies, and panel discussions on several topics including mandatory recall authority, public notification, and recall processes Used by other agencies.


NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow has been asked to participate in the final panel of the day, New Approaches to Recalls, along with Shirley Bohm, Director of Dairy and Food Inspection, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and Carol Tucker Foreman, Director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America. The panelists are asked by Phil Derfler, the FSIS Moderator, to respond to two questions, (1) Should the mark of inspection be withheld from products pending sample results? and (2) Should FSIS approach establishment-initiated recalls differently from FSIS-initiated recalls? Other panels earlier in the day-long event, address the following: When is public notification needed?; Mandatory Recall authority – What are the Implications?; Other Agency Approaches to Recalls (FDA and U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission); FSIS and the States – Working Together on Recalls; An Industry Approach to Recalls; and How FSIS Approaches Recalls. John Bode, of Olsson, Frank & Weeda and counsel to NMA and the National Food Processors Association, will participate on the Mandatory Recall Authority panel along with Caroline Smith deWaal, Director of Food Safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and a Congressional staffer.


Rosemary welcomes input from members before she leaves for Washington late Wednesday. Please send your views to [email protected]




In last week’s Herd on the Hill, it was mentioned that two weeks ago FSIS issued two notices that affect NMA’s member companies. For more information or copies of these notices, contact Shawna Thomas at [email protected] or access them on the web at


FSIS Notice 51-02 updated Notice 25-02 (7/9/02) by providing more information that inspection personnel “may find helpful in their day-to-day assessment of equipment Used in Federally-inspected establishments,” according to the notice. This final rule gives companies certain flexibility in the design of their facility and equipment as long as a sanitary environment is maintained. Key clarifications are as follows:

-     Establishments are no longer required to Use only FSIS-approved utensils and models of equipment.

-     FSIS no longer evaluates equipment or utensils for acceptance, but inspection personnel will continue to verify equipment meets sanitation performance standards.

-     FSIS states that third party certification services may be advantageous but are not required.


The notice also helps to clarify that inspection personnel have no responsibilities in relationship to third party certification. “Though establishments can Use different and varying means to meet these performance standards, the required results must always be the same. Establishments must prevent insanitary conditions that could lead to adulterated product.”


FSIS Notice 50-02 reissues the Humane Slaughter, Inspection System Procedure (ISP), Code 04C02 that was originally issued in FSIS notice 43-01 (10/11/01). This notice does not add any clarifications to the original code, but simply updates it. An important thing to note from the original code is that FSIS has the right to suspend inspection from an establishment without prior notification if it is found that an establishment is handling or slaughtering animals inhumanely. 


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60 Minutes II, a CBS Television news magazine that airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT, contacted NMA regarding a Listeria monocytogenes (LM) report. Regretfully, NMA was not able to participate in on-camera interviews for the segment. However, typical of its ongoing proactive efforts with all media outlets, NMA provided this letter (inset) to represent the industry.

The meat and poultry industry has gone to huge lengths to assure to the fullest extent possible that the products it puts into commerce are as safe as we can possibly make them. Unfortunately, the pathogens that we are attempting to prevent are constantly adapting to new habitats, mutating into new forms, and finding ways to cling to their food source, which include meat and poultry products. The scientific and technological advances of recent years have been phenomenal, but the “survival of the fittest” capability of bacteria makes the fight difficult. The industry is committed to eradicating Listeria monocytogenes from meat products.


The meat and poultry industry is always mindful of its responsibility to provide the safest meat possible. It doesn’t often get credit for the millions and millions of pounds of meat that is eaten safely every day. The fact that the industry is feeding its own families, as well as the nation’s families, is often overlooked. Moreover, the employees who work for firms that manufacture these food products also consume them. The industry is sensitive to all of its consumers and recognizes the symbiotic nature of our relationship.



1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612

Ph. (510) 763-1533 or (202) 667-2108 · Fax (510) 763-6186

[email protected] ·

December 5, 2002



60 Minutes II
524 West 57th St.
New York, NY 10019


Thank you for your call today inviting NMA or its representative to be interviewed on camera for a segment on your program scheduled for next Wednesday, December 11, about recent outbreaks of illness attributed to listeriosis.  We are sorry that, with such short notice, and because of other commitments, and plain logistical difficulties, we are not able to provide exactly what you seek, but we hope the following will be helpful.


Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic microorganism, found virtually everywhere – in soil, vegetation and water.  The distinct difference between it and other foodborne pathogens is that it continues to grow under refrigerated conditions and survives freezing.  It survives and grows well in damp environments, including many food production environments and the home refrigerator.  Its presence in dairy, meat and poultry products is subjected to strenuous intervention technologies.


Stringent sanitation procedures are demanded in food production plants, especially in rooms where ready-to-eat products are handled and packaged.  This is especially important because many competitive microorganisms have been destroyed in the cooking process, so great care is exercised not to inadvertently recontaminate these products during packaging. Both employee sanitation and environment sanitation are maintained under the most stringent conditions and the firms handling these products cooperate fully with USDA. 


We encourage you to direct interested persons to NMA’s website,, and to the specific preventive guidelines that we developed a few years ago to assist industry firms handling ready-to-eat products (  We also suggest that representatives, such as Dr. Michael Doyle with the University of Georgia, representatives at the Food Research Institute in Madison, WI, and/or Dr. Mark Daeschle at the University of Oregon, all of whom are scientists with excellent knowledge of Listeria monocytogenes, would be good potential candidates for interview.




Rosemary Mucklow

Executive Director




FSIS has posted its “Microbial Sampling of Ready-To-Eat (RTE) Products for the FSIS Verification Testing Program” notice at the following address: FSIS Inspectors-In-Charge will be surveying establishments that produce RTE meat and poultry products, and the information they gather will be used in assessing Listeria risk levels to aid in the development of performance criteria.  More information on this notice will follow.