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

February 3, 2003




U.S. Representative Ric Keller (R-FL) has introduced legislation intended to curtail obesity-based lawsuits.  Rep. Keller introduced a bill last Monday to protect manufacturers and restaurants from civil liability based upon food consumption, if the plaintiff cannot prove that the product violated laws and product regulations. reported that Keller’s legislation is in response to a lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge on January 22 against McDonald’s Corporation in which plaintiffs contended that McDonald’s products contributed to their obesity and resulting health problems.


As reported in last week’s Lean Trimmings, the obese plaintiffs charged the fast-food corporation with engaging in deceptive practices and not providing adequate access to its products’ nutritional information. Judge Robert W. Sweet dismissed the lawsuit, as he said the plaintiffs failed to prove their charges. This is exactly the type of litigation Rep. Keller is seeking to prohibit. “The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act” would stop trial lawyers from making the restaurant industry their next target of a class-action lawsuit, according to a press release on the bill. “Unfortunately, the recent ruling in the McDonald’s case only promotes trial lawyers to go venue shopping and find themselves a sympathetic judge,” Rep. Keller stated in the release.


“We believe there should be common sense in a food court, not blaming other people in a legal court whenever there is an excessive consumption of fast food. We think that most people understand that it’s common sense that if you eat unlimited amounts of supersize fries and milkshakes and Big Macs…that can possibly lead to obesity and things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease.” Rep. Keller said at a news conference at his Orlando office.


He further stated in the release, “The need for this common-sense legislation is great, as Americans now spend more than $110 billion on fast-food each year, and on any given day in the United States, almost one in four adults visits a fast-food restaurant.”


Plaintiffs in the lawsuit dismissed January 22 have stated their intention to amend their complaint and refile it in the federal court within the allotted thirty days.




Lean Trimmings and Herd on the Hill are offered electronically. If you’d like to receive the newsletter via e-mail, please contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533. Receive the latest news every Monday afternoon in your Inbox instead of waiting for it in the mail!



Sunday, March 2- Wednesday, March 5, 2003




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The AMSA/NMA Meat Science Conference at the Rio All Suite & Casino Resort in Las Vegas begins on Wednesday afternoon immediately as NMA’s convention events wind down. It is a great opportunity for all those involved in applying scientific principles to their meat business activities to hear the latest information.


“Science-Based Strategies for Producing Safe Raw Meat Products” (Draft Preliminary Agenda)


Wednesday March 5

1:00 PM          Registration

1:20 PM          Welcome

1:30 PM          Acidified Sodium Chlorite Technology

Chris Hawk, Alcide Corporation          

2:00 PM          Peroxyacetic Acid Technology

Tim Gutzmann, Ecolab

2:45 PM          Break

3:00 PM          Carcass Rinse Technology

Mike Gangel, The Chad Company

3:30 PM          Ozonated Water- 

Charles Pearsall, RGF Environmental Systems  

4:00 PM          Irradiation of Fresh Meat

Dr. Kevin Nanke, Surebeam    


Thursday, March 6

8:00 AM         Real-Time Optical Detection of Organic Contamination of Carcasses –

Richard Stroman, e-Merge Interactive, Inc.

8:30 AM         Microbial Testing Procedures and Methods – What Does Testing Do for You?

Gina Bellinger, Food Safety Net

9:15 AM         Break

9:30 AM         Raw Material Lotting and Sampling

Robert Savage, HACCP Consulting Group      

10:15 AM       E. coli O157:H7 Reassessment

Ron Eckel, USDA FSIS Tech Center             

11:00 AM       Scientific Data to Support Reassessment Decisions

Dr. Lynn Delmore, Golden State Foods

11:30 AM       Panel Discussion - Dr. Lynn Delmore, Robert Savage, Ron Eckel

12:00 PM        Adjourn











Who is most deserving of the Supplier of the Year Award?

NMA members, tell us what you think! You should nominate the person/company for excellent services provided, an exemplary commitment to the meat and poultry industries, and invaluable contributions to our association.  


The supplier nominees who receive the most nominations will be submitted to the NMA Executive Committee for final selection.  The award recipient will be announced at the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, March 5, 2003.


We appreciate your suggestion and prompt response.  Please take a few minutes to fill out the nomination form and either mail or FAX it back to us.  Thank you for your help and support!


Access the form online at: of the Year Award.doc.




Information about NMA’S 57th Annual Convention and MEATXPO ’03 is available online at: A schedule, roundtable schedule, and preliminary exhibitor list are accessible in PDF format, as well as a listing of social events and a registration form. The Sausagefest entry form is also available on the events page. Contact NMA at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for additional information.


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NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow responded to a January 21, 2003 Wall Street Journal article entitled “DNA Matching Helps Track Tainted Meat.” Her letter was recently published under the title “Where’s the Bad Beef?”


“Leila Abboud’s Jan. 21 report “DNA Matching Helps Track Tainted Meat” focuses on what we believe is a very complicated and imperfect system for identifying a food that caused human illness.


“Beef industry producers, packers and processors are working assiduously to make beef, especially ground beef, safer for consumers, using every possible technological and scientific capability available to them. Their motivation to this end is not lawsuits, but producing the safest meat possible.


“That is why more than 200 beef industry leaders met earlier this month in San Antonio to explore means of improving the safety of beef products. We have beef eating families, too.”




Last week USDA announced a new daily voluntary feedlot report for slaughter steers and heifers that becomes available today. It will be posted on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) website at Find out more about the report, “Central U.S. Daily Direct Feedlot Slaughter Cattle Report,” by contacting John Van Dyke, Chief, AMS Livestock and Grain Market News at 202-720-6231 or [email protected].




NCBA has published its executive summary on the Beef Industry E. coli Summit Meeting of January 7-8. Contact NCBA directly at 303-694-0305 or for more information.




On Saturday, February 1 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Board of Directors heard from members about their concerns over implementation of COOL. The Board acted to request that USDA schedule field hearings on the issue to fully inform livestock producers of what the law will require.  Reportedly, NCBA's leaders plan to meet with Secretary Veneman in the near future to ask her to schedule such hearings.


Beyond Basics:
HACCP Plan Improvement Workshop for Cooked Products Operations

College Station, Texas
February 4 - 5, 2003

This course is
co-sponsored by SMA and NMA in conjunction with Texas A&M University.  To participate in this program, you must bring your company's cooked product HACCP Plan(s) to the workshop and we will work together to improve your HACCP Plan(s)! Space is limited to allow optimal hands-on interaction, so register today!




Feb 11- Environmental Monitoring with Silliker Lab

Marriot Hotel, Newport Beach, CA

*This seminar will review designing a comprehensive environmental monitoring program, environmental monitoring for investigational purposes, data management and maintenance of an environmental program.


FEBRUARY 15, 2003!


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USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that all sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on January 1, 2003, totaled 6.35 million head, which is down 5% from 2002 and 9% below two years ago. 

The 2002 lamb crop of 4.36 million head was down 3% from 2001 and established a new record low.  The 2002 lambing rate was 110 per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2002, which is unchanged from 2001. The number of operations with sheep during 2002 totaled 64,170, down 1% from 2001 and 3% from 2000.

For information on "Sheep and Goats" call Scott Hollis at 202-720-4751 between 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET.


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.



MARCH 5-6, 2003!



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

February 3, 2003




There was much discussion at last week’s NCBA meeting in Nashville, TN about the implementation of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef.  Remember, beef, pork and lamb COOL requirements, along with requirements for dairy, produce (fruits and vegetables), fish and peanuts were in the 2002 Farm Bill.  Even before the NCBA Board discussion on Saturday, interesting information flowed from the Council and Committee meetings on Thursday and Friday. 


ü                   There is no quick fix.  What Congress hath done to mandate COOL in October 2004, only Congress can undo before that date, or the courts can undo after that date.

ü                   Any such Congressional action, in the form of legislation, will take 218 votes in the House and at least 51 in the Senate.  Remember, COOL was passed with 295 votes in the House in 2002.

ü                   Even if COOL is reconsidered in Congress,  it may have new supporters.  One presenter told attendees that consumer advocates like it a lot since it will help to provide animal traceback to specific livestock when tracking pathogen sources.

ü                   There are many livestock already on the ground in the United States that don’t have traceback to origin, and many of them in breeding herds and dairies will not be marketable when COOL becomes mandatory in October 2004.  This is not an insignificant number of livestock; we estimate somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of the bovine population.  This estimate does not account for livestock born between now and October 2004 at locations where there is no traceback/ID system.

ü                   The burden of COOL falls on retailers, with penalties of $10,000 an incident.  It is reasonable for retailers to prefer to handle poultry, to which COOL does not apply, rather than incur any risk of a COOL violation.  Remember, it’s not an option for retailers to say: I don’t know.  The COOL legislation is clear that USDA may not mandate animal ID on the livestock industry as part of implementation.

ü                   One way out is to send U.S. bovines without COOL to Canada or Mexico, and let them return in boxes as “Product of Canada” or “Product of Mexico.”  Those countries do not require birth to slaughter identity, and their newest bovine immigrants would immediately achieve country status on their way to the abattoir.  That would significantly affect U.S. slaughterers.

ü                   Another alternative for the mature bovine population is the animal welfare dream, let the animals  be pastured till they drop and then go to pet food.

ü                   COOL does not apply in foodservice.  Implementation of the 2002 law could rearrange the slaughter industry, where firms might choose to service only the food service industry and not the retail industry.  This would completely revolutionize distribution and pricing systems.  It would not take long to figure out the cost for the consumer benefit of knowing just how much COOL costs.  It would have a devastating cost on meat packers.

ü                   Certainly, grinders could have segmented lines designated to U.S. COOL grinds, and imported product that comes with its specific country identity.  This would probably make blending U.S. trim from quality beef with lean imported meat less attractive and another marketing pricing readjustment of substance would be established.

ü                   Would a legislative delay in the mandatory requirement be helpful?  Probably not, because it would not resolve most of these issues, other than giving producers a little more time to get an animal traceback system in place.  It would not help the dairies and breeding herds with livestock on the ground today that won’t be harvested till after a mandatory date. 

ü                   Who are the winners?  Imported meat that will go to consumers at retail labeled with the country-of-origin.  New Zealand and Australian lamb is already marketed as such.  These same countries and Canada will have great opportunities to enter the retail ground beef market with country-identified product at retail.

ü                   Who are the losers?  American livestock producers who will not have a domestic retail market for their beef that lack traceback information.  American slaughterers and processors who will have to maintain a whole new set of records, demanded by retailers who will be unwilling to risk $10,000 civil penalties for having meat of unknown origin in their counters.


Machiavelli himself could not have developed a better scheme for self-destruction.


NMA counsel regard COOL as unconstitutional and note that a court challenge may be filed once USDA mandatory rules are issued. 


q                   As explained above, COOL would effectively require U.S. livestock to be labeled as product of a foreign country if there is not documentation to prove its U.S. origin.  However, under the First Amendment, government may not require label statements that are false or misleading. 

q                   To be constitutional, a government labeling requirement must advance a substantial government interest, which COOL does not and not impose an excessive regulatory burden.  Mere “consumer curiosity,” in contrast to information about the safety or physical characteristics of the product, does not constitute a substantial government interest. 

q                   Most COOL observers recognize that the scheme is not so much about providing consumer information as it is a system to require elaborate traceback documentation that would be especially burdensome for imported livestock, meat or other COOL foods.  To be constitutional, the labeling requirement must directly advance the government interest.  To require labeling for the sake of burdening imports is not directly advancing a government interest. 


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REMEMBERING DICK LYNG                                                                                                       


Former Secretary of Agriculture Richard E. Lyng died in his sleep on Saturday, January 31.  He was 84.  A native of California, he lived and worked in Modesto where he served as the president of a family-owned seed and bean business for over 20 years before entering public service as the deputy director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in 1967.  He served in senior positions in California and at USDA, and served as USDA Secretary from 1986 to 1989. 


NMA members will remember that he joined us in San Francisco in 1996 to present NMA’s E. Floyd Forbes Award to NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow, an award he himself received in 1980.  Rosemary first met him in 1967 when he was responsible for implementing the 1967 Wholesome Meat Act in California and worked with him in many capacities during his public service career.  In late 2002, Rosemary, joined by Jane Anderson who had worked for him at AMI, had lunch with him in Modesto, just one more fond memory in their long friendship.


Dick Lyng was a caring man and a quintessential leader who never forgot the value of not only the contribution of the generals but also the foot soldiers. He fostered the careers of many working in the industry today, including NMA’s Executive Director and NMA’s Counsel Philip Olsson.  He made sure that the politics of government did not get in the way of honesty and fairness. His door was always open.


Dick’s wife, Bethyl, preceded him in death in September 2000.  We extend to his daughters and grandchildren, to whom he was devoted, our condolences. 




It’s only been 2003 for a month and NMA is already facing the usual bills and legislation on the hill.  Senator Grassley of Iowa has reintroduced the Packer Ownership Ban that was struck from last year’s Farm Bill.  Senator Durbin (D-IL) has been quoted in the New York Times as saying that “he would re-introduce legislation with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to restore the power of the Agriculture Department to ‘exercise a range of options from imposing fines to suspending operations – when they find that a plant is contaminated.’”  Though this description of proposed legislation is vague, it could easily describe Senator Harkin’s Safe and Fair Enforcement and Recall for Meat, Poultry, and Food Act (s.2803), which was introduced in the 107th Congress.  That legislation, which never made it out of committee, would have given the government the jurisdiction to levy stiff civil penalties, per day, on an establishment found to be in violation of the Federal Meat and Poultry Inspection Act.  If Durbin reintroduces such legislation it will quickly become an NMA priority. 


Another bill that could potentially affect some NMA members is Rep. Serrano’s (D-NY) Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act of 2003.  As proposed, this act would “amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the egg, meat, and poultry inspection laws to ensure that consumers receive notification regarding food products produced from crops, livestock, or poultry raised on land on which sewage sludge was applied.”  According to NMA’s lawyers this looks like another attempt to “impose labeling requirements for the purpose of forcing changes in production practices.”  This bill could have First Amendment issues if the government cannot substantiate its interest for the labeling requirement.  If any of our member companies has information on sewage sludge and how it is used as fertilizer or a soil additive, our Government Relations Liaison Shawna Thomas would appreciate receiving it.  Send information to [email protected].


Also, it has been confirmed that Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) is the replacement for Rep. Pombo (R-CA) as the chair of the Livestock and Horticulture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee.  As you may remember Rep. Pombo is now the Chairman of the Committee on Resources.  Rep. Hayes represents the 8th congressional district of North Carolina.  He is in his 3rd term and is also a co-chair on the Congressional Rural Caucus (CRC).  According to their website, the CRC “is a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress who are committed to helping agricultural and rural America build stronger, more prosperous futures for current and future generations of Americans living on the family farms and ranches and in rural communities.”  NMA looks forward to working with Rep. Hayes as well as new and returning members to the Agriculture Committee.