NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
March 31, 2003
NMA reported last week Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman’s comments at the Washington Food Industry Summit in which she suggested a need for additional enforcement authorities under the meat and poultry statutes. Those referenced included levying of civil penalties for violations, mandatory reporting of positive pathogen tests, and Cease and Desist authority. Subsequent to her surprise statements, industry leaders have expressed their concerns that the agency already has sufficient authority under the existing statute, and that such new authorities would in no way make meat safer, but would most likely exacerbate industry consolidation.
Leaders in Congress have expressed their concerns to the Secretary, and she invited industry leaders in this morning for a discussion. NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow, joined by John Bode of Olsson, Frank & Weeda, attended the hour-long meeting. The Secretary told the attendees that they have a strong food safety team at USDA, and given recent recalls and court decisions, she wanted to have some dialogue to make sure that the systems they have are working as intended. Dr. Elsa Murano, Under Secretary for Food Safety followed by reemphasizing the importance of food safety, the Department’s commitment to science, and science-based policy, and the farm to table approach although the authority of FSIS does not extend that far, and that there needs to be a partnership on technologies to prevent pathogens and reduce risks. The major food safety issues are to have a strategy, which, to the greatest extent possible, will prevent adulterated product from entering commerce, and enforce regulations that are fair to the industry and are warranted by the system.
Representing the American Meat Institute, Patrick Boyle supported the Secretary’s comments about the need for education, training and new technologies, and sought greater cooperation on research. He expressed industry consternation about additional authorities as expressed by the Secretary. NMA’s Executive Director brought along a copy of the 1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), and the follow-up 1967 Wholesome Meat Act, and reminded those present of the 1986 amendment to the FMIA that led to the development of the Performance Based Inspection System. In that system, deficiencies were recorded by inspectors as Critical, Major or Minor, a system not dissimilar to most other enforcement authorities such as the highway safety enforcement. The 1996 mega-reg provides only for deficiencies, without degree of severity, and Mucklow then provided a summary of data from FSIS’s Quarterly Reports of total deficiencies, appeals, and number of plants appealing. (For a copy of the submittal, please send an e-mail to [email protected].) She noted that plants fail to use the appeal system because of concerns of retaliation. She suggested that there needs to be an evaluation of the system set up in 1996 and consideration of improvements for better effectiveness of measuring regulatory compliance.
John Bode noted that shipment of product that is known to be adulterated would be a felony violation of current law. Proposals by some Congressional representatives would allow prosecution if there was reason to believe product was adulterated and they failed to notify USDA. He said that there needs to be a clear understanding about what the problem is that the Department thinks needs to be fixed – and this problem has not been clearly stated.
As the Secretary wrapped up the one-hour meeting, she stated a clear need to revisit the research and technology issues, that she wants to continue the process and have dialogue, especially with respect to the insufficiency of training. She also said that she wants to be open and receive ideas about how to strengthen the system and do everything possible to assure the safest food supply.
McDonald’s Corp. Chairman and CEO James Cantalupo announced an initiative to promote fitness and better nutrition awareness among its consumers around the world, according to a report in Meatingplace.com. McDonald’s said in the report that it will form an advisory council of fitness and nutrition experts “to help guide the company on activities that address the need for balanced, healthy lifestyles.” Reportedly, the company is also working with the U.S. Department of Health and the World Health Organization “in a collaborative effort to help educate consumers about the role nutrition and fitness play in maintaining healthy lifestyles.”
NMA/SMA ANNUAL D.C. TRIP
Leaders of NMA and Southwest Meat Association (SMA) will make their annual visit to Washington, D.C. April 8-10, 2003. We invite our members to join us in meeting with legislators and regulators and helping to educate them about the industry. Please call the NMA office at 510-763-1533 if you need more information to attend.
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!
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:
NMA has available two videotapes on animal handling, “Animal Stunning for Stunners,” and “Animal Handling in Meat Plants.” NMA members may purchase these videos at a discounted price. Please contact Julie Ramsey at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for more information.
Drover’s Alert and the Associated Press (AP) reported that U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III ruled last Monday that using dairy checkoff money to pay for research and generic advertising doesn’t infringe on the rights of an individual producer to communicate a separate message. The lawsuit filed last year by organic producers Joseph and Brenda Cochran is based on the claim that the dairy checkoff is unconstitutional. Other suits have targeted fees to promote such products as watermelons, avocados, eggs, honey and fruit trees, mushrooms, as well as beef and pork.
The Cochrans are the source of but one of many suits arguing that forcing farmers to participate in such programs violates their right to free speech. Further, the generic advertising does little to promote organic products, in their view, but does help promote companies whose agricultural practices they find objectionable. Other litigation brought against checkoff programs used the same argument of infringement of free speech. Like some of the other litigants opposed to checkoffs, the Cochrans will probably appeal. AP reported that the Cochrans have paid about $3,500 per year in checkoff fees. “They are very disappointed,” Cochran lawyer Ben Yale told AP. “They should not be forced to fund speech they disagree with.”
Dairy Management Inc., which manages the campaign for the National Dairy Board, has a decidedly different view of the checkoff. The program raises about $250 million on an annual basis. Dairy Management Inc. spokesman David Pelzer reportedly said that pooling advertising dollars is necessary to compete with soft drink giants like Coca Cola and Pepsi. He also said the “vast majority” of milk producers support the dairy checkoff. Pelzer said it has boosted demand by 12% since the early 1980s. “There is no question that it has been a success,” he stated in the AP report.
NMA HACCP SEMINAR AND LISTERIA WORKSHOP
Space is limited for NMA’s “Developing and Implementing HACCP for Meat & Poultry Plants” seminar April 3-5, 2003 and its “Two-Day Listeria Workshop” April 11-12, 2003! Please register early!
Please note that another course to obtain HACCP certification will not be offered again until the end of this year. Individuals interested in gaining HACCP certification are strongly encouraged to take part in the April 3-5 seminar in Los Angeles, CA. Contact NMA at 510-763-1533 for more information.
ROUNDTABLE SEMINAR TAPES
Audio tapes of the interactive roundtable seminars at NMA’s 57th Annual Convention are now available! Don’t miss out on the thought-provoking and challenging questions and answers from experts and attendees during these twelve sessions: Preventing H7; What Works; Making RTE Products Safe; Sampling & Testing Methods; The Workplace Q&A; Industry Consolidation; Security: Business & Industry; Managing the Paper Trail; Standards for HACCP Validation; Industry-Government Working Together; COOL or NOT COOL! & Nutrition; Telling the Meat Industry Story; and Moving Forward with Branded Meats. Contact NMA at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 to request an order form.
NAMP CENTER OF THE PLATE TRAINING
NAMP is offering its Center of the Plate Training*
course May 6-8, 2003 at Texas A&M University in College Station,
Texas. The course delivers a basic look at the origins of meat products
by demonstrating how carcasses are converted into the portioned items commonly
traded in the foodservice business. The course covers all major center of
the plate protein items including beef, pork, lamb, poultry and seafood.
Attendees will walk away with an understanding of the IMPS/NAMP numbering
system and a knowledge of meat items described by these numbers and NAMP’s Meat
and Poultry Buyers Guides;
an understanding of the origination of meat items and their final use; an understanding of how standards keep meat products consistent, wholesome, and fair throughout the market; the ability to identify common defects or inconsistencies in meat products; a knowledge of the most current menu trends, ideas and options; and a knowledge of how value is determined for different meat products.
The $699 registration fee includes a copy of NAMP’s flagship publications, the Meat Buyers Guide and Poultry Buyers Guide, together a $75 value. Also, continuing education credits are available. A discounted early registration fee (before April 15) is available. To download an agenda and registration information, please go to http://www.namp.com/COP.pdf or contact NAMP at
*Co-sponsored by the National Pork Board, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association/Joint Veal Committee and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
NEW SALMONELLA TEST
On March 27 FSIS announced a new measure to increase efficiency and further protect public health. FSIS has adopted the BAX® system to screen for Salmonella in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry and pasteurized egg products. The system was developed by DuPont Qualicon, according to the National Chicken Council Washington Report, and was evaluated at the FSIS Microbial Outbreaks and Special Projects Laboratory (MOSPL) in Athens, GA, to determine whether it would be beneficial to the agency. FSIS executed the BAX® system to screen RTE meat and poultry samples for Salmonella on Feb. 17 in three field service laboratories and the MOSPL laboratory. Testing methods used by FSIS laboratories undergo rigorous evaluations to determine their validity and reliability.
The Washington Report relayed that the system was found to be as sensitive as the Salmonella test currently in use, but can provide negative samples at least three days sooner. FSIS began using the BAX® screening system for Listeria monocytogenes in April 2002. Further, the system is also being evaluated as a potential screen for Salmonella on raw products. You can learn more about the BAX® system on DuPont Qualicon’s website: http://www.qualicon.com/bax.html.
FSIS also plans to evaluate the screening system for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in coming months.
NATIONAL SUMMARY OF MEATS GRADED
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of February 2003. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 61.7%, up from 60.3% in January. Select was 34.5%, down from 35.8% the previous month. And Prime was 3.8%, down from 3.9% in January. For a copy of the entire report, which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Kiran Kernellu or visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/mgc/mgc-pubs.htm.
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
March 31, 2003
Last week the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) held a public meeting to share information and discuss strategies for improving global food safety. After introductory remarks regarding the importance of international cooperation in improving food safety and biosecurity, panel discussions were held to discuss regional perspectives, scientific perspectives, and assistance and outreach programs regarding food safety. Representatives from FSIS, the Embassy of Australia, the Pan American Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agriculture Research Service, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the Foreign Agricultural Service shared their perspectives on various food safety topics during these panel discussions, including risk analysis, multi-drug resistant pathogens, irradiation, and technical assistance needs. Most of the panel members provided general information on these topic areas, but did not provide specific recommendations for improving food safety. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for an Olsson, Frank & Weeda memorandum that summarizes the meeting.
NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow attended the Conference. She noted that, once again, FSIS emphasized its shift from animal disease responsibility to microbial, and that HACCP focuses on foodborne hazards. Mucklow questioned Dr. Philip Corrigan, Veterinary Counselor for the Embassy of Australia, about how that country was meeting the certificate of analysis for boneless meat coming to the United States. He confirmed that while a low prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 has been found in livestock in Australia, no positive findings on boneless beef have ever been found. This, of course, puts into question that it even may be a hazard reasonably likely to occur. With regards to domestic grinders that purchase from foreign producers and utilize purchase specifications, a source at FSIS commented that the grinder should obtain from the overseas producer documentation that the producer has reassessed its HACCP plan in compliance with the October 7, 2002 Federal Register Notice. If the overseas producer has determined that E. coli O157:H7 is not reasonably likely to occur in its process, it must reference relevant decision-making data to support its decision in lieu of validated interventions.
The conference ended with closing remarks from Dr. Merle Pierson, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, USDA, who reasserted the USDA’s commitment to improve food safety globally. He also stated that the Department will hold similar conferences in the future to share perspectives and ideas on food safety issues and foster relationships among the international community.
BLOOD AND TISSUE COLLECTION AT SLAUGHTERING ESTABLISHEMNTS
NMA provided comments to APHIS regarding its proposed rule published in the Federal Register on November 27, 2002, entitled, “Blood and Tissue Collection at Slaughtering Establishments.” NMA raised several concerns regarding this issue including the justification for the proposed rule and proposed additional testing, the inaccuracy and deficiency of cost estimates, confidentiality of results, and the scope of the proposed rule. NMA endorsed a negotiated process with it, APHIS and FSIS “to address solutions to impediments that interfere with facilitating animal health issues of concern to APHIS.” Further, NMA would welcome and actively support this process in lieu of the current proposed legislation. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the comments.
BEEF INDUSTRY E. COLI SUMMIT MEETING
There will be a Beef Industry E. Coli Summit Meeting in Denver, CO April 1-2, 2003. NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow will be in attendance, and NMA will provide information about this meeting in a coming issue of Lean Trimmings and Herd on the Hill.
The executive summary of the Beef Industry E. Coli Summit Meeting of January 7-8, 2003, entitled “E. coli O157:H7 Solutions: The Farm to Table Continuum,” has been sent to NMA general members. NMA members please contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the summary by mail.
Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) is floating draft legislation that would require packers and producer-owned cooperatives to purchase 25% and 12.5%, respectively, of their daily slaughter from the cash market, according to a BEEf Cow-Calf Weekly report. Despite similar legislation being defeated in conference committee last year, several U.S. Senators are pushing for passage of this bill this year. Reportedly, such similar legislation also may be introduced in the House.
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has requested of USDA a broader, more comprehensive approach to an impending study of the proposed ban on packer ownership of livestock, according to Cattle Buyers Weekly. He proposed that a new Council on Competition, comprised of USDA experts, livestock producers and industry representatives, should oversee the study; review concerns; report findings to Congress and the public; and make policy recommendations.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has pinpointed the U.S. food supply and agriculture as a potential terrorism target. We are urged to be watchful for early signs of disease, bacteria and other exposures in herds. Drovers Alert reported that USDA Veterinary Services officials are encouraging everyone involved in disease diagnosis, animal movement, livestock production and marketing to be on the lookout for signs of exposure to any highly contagious disease, or any unusual or unexplained adverse animal health event. Of particular concern are:
Immediately report anything unusual to your local law-enforcement authorities and your state animal health office. Visit
http://www.usda.gov/homelandsecurity/homeland.html for more information.
Last week some NMA members informed us that an individual, identified as Bob Miller in one case, called members representing himself as a staff person in the Office of Homeland Defense. This individual claimed to be conducting a survey of 500 plants for information regarding security measures. Questions regarding types of products and amounts produced have been asked of companies. Any establishment that has received such a call should ask for the inquiry to be made in writing and request a telephone number at which the individual can be reached, and FSIS field personnel should be informed if this individual contacts you. We would appreciate any further details surrounding such inquiries be forwarded to Jessie Majkowski, FSIS Office of Food Security and Emergency Preparedness, at 202-720-5643.
Dr. Garry L. McKee, FSIS Administrator, planned to send a letter to plant owners and managers Friday in response to reports FSIS received about this person who has been contacting plants claiming to be an employee of the Office of Homeland Defense. FSIS is not conducting security surveys at inspected establishments.
Constituents are urged to contact FSIS’ Technical Service Center at 800-233-3935 with any food security issues.