NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Jeremy Russell
March 4, 2002
Following a letter from NMA’s Processed Meats Committee prompting action, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association initiated a new project, “Shot Up and Shot Down.” Noting that “the incidence of buckshot and birdshot found in beef carcasses is robbing the industry of profits, customers and competitive advantage,” NCBA issued guidelines to stem the tide of shot beef. According to conservative estimates in the 1999 National Market Cow and Bull Quality Audit, there are about 15,000 separate incidences each year, costing $100,000 per instance or a staggering $1.5 billion annually. Naturally, this is a primary concern among packers.
Screening and recall costs are not the only problem. According to NCBA, incidence of buckshot and birdshot combined with the growing liability of consumers finding foreign objects in their food is driving some companies to shop for foreign beef. Nor is the problem limited to the domestic market. Over two years ago, shot was discovered in U.S. beef exported to South Korea. Not only did the incidence ultimately cost over $1 million, it depressed future demand. Even today, this is still one of the first concerns U.S. trade teams hear from South Korean importers.
NCBA has asked that producers take control of the issue. “Like injection site blemishes, the only way to make lasting change is at producer level where the problem starts,” said the Association in its “Shot Up and Shot Down” brochure. The brochure asks ranchers to leave the shotguns at home and to take responsibility for the actions of gun toters that they allow on their land.
NCBA Executive Director of Research and Technical Services Dr. Gary Cowman visited with the NMA Processed Meats Committee to explain the “Shot up and Shot Down” project. NMA leaders were pleased to see the actions taken and commended NCBA on its fast response.
The following biographies were omitted from the Final Program at NMA’s 56th Annual Convention:
Michael Barrera is an attorney named by President Bush to head the Small Business Administration's Office of the National Ombudsman. “The mission of the job is ... we advocate on behalf of small businesses that have been the target of unfair regulatory enforcement and compliance actions by federal agencies,” Barrera has said. “My goals are to work with the federal agencies in order to foster a more fair regulatory enforcement environment for small businesses.” In his position, Barrera will report to Congress annually on how federal agencies treat small businesses.
Dave Hazekamp, fourth generation meat packer, has been president of Hazekamp Meats since 1994. He has seen every aspect of the business, including fifteen years in slaughter and fabrication and eight years in case-ready. Currently, he manages the case-ready beef, pork, ground beef and value-added product programs. His family-owned company has grown from $1.5 million in sales and 8 employees to $40 million and 100 employees in the past ten years.
Dan Murphy is editor of Meat Marketing & Technology magazine. He has more than 20 years of experience as an editor and writer. Murphy holds dual degrees in health science and journalism from the University of Oregon and, during his career, he has served as top editor of four of the meat and poultry industries’ leading publications. His popular and informative weekly online commentaries can be accessed at http://www.meatingplace.com/.
The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise has filed a complaint against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) with an IRS Commissioner, asking that PETA's privileged non-profit status be revoked for violations of tax laws and connections to unlawful activity. PETA has received recent media notice for funding groups classified by the FBI as domestic terrorists.
If Enron was a Japanese food company it would be called Snow Brand Food Co Ltd. Snow Brand was Japan’s fifth-largest maker of processed meats, but, after a string of humiliating admissions that shattered consumer confidence and drop kicked stock prices, the company said it would close doors by late April. Troubles started two years ago when parent company Snow Brand Milk Products Co Ltd was caught in a tainted-milk debacle, but when it was revealed early this year that the meat division had deliberately mislabeled beef to pocket government subsidies aimed at bolstering companies caught in a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) crisis, outrage resulted. The meat packing firms sales dropped 85% after the scandal broke and shares of the company’s stock, down 40% since the meat-labeling scandal broke, have lost more than 80% since the milk problems.
Hiroski Okuma, Japanese economic and business commentator, told the Asahi Shimbun that “until now, few corporations involved in scandals chose to liquidate. The Snow Brand Foods’ decision is epoch-making in that sense. It has become clear that even a major company has to disappear if it betrays consumers.”
The news of Snow Brands imminent demise was followed by a second meat mislabeling scandal on February 27. Starzen, Japan’s largest meat dealer, revealed that it had repackaged significant amounts of inexpensive beef and pork as top brands for sale in supermarkets. According to the Associated Press, many Japanese restaurants have switched to serving only imported beef.
Burger King Corporation is celebrating 45 years of flame-broiled Whoppers today. Burger King Corporation and its franchisees will mark the anniversary by introducing 14 new products. This does not mean the company will lose focus on its popular sandwich, however. “The Whopper sandwich is the hallmark of our brand and one of our strategic assets,” said John Dasburg, Burger King chairman, CEO and president. “We want to satisfy the millions of Whopper fans every day.” More than 4.5 million Whoppers are sold around the world daily. Many NMA members provide Whopper beef and are proud to be a part of this tradition. We send our congratulations to Burger King
NMA has scheduled its annual NMA leaders Washington Conference for April 9-11, 2002. The introduction dinner will be held on the evening of Tuesday, April 9. Wednesday, April 10, will be Hill day – attendees will visit as many of their representatives as possible. We’ll stop in at USDA on Thursday, April 11. NMA Members who want to attend should begin by contacting our offices and then contact their representatives.
Since September 11, meat company executives have begun to respond to the new threats ... but are they screening employees properly? Are there site security holes? Are their crisis management plans reflecting the new realities? Do they understand what the government will be requiring of them?
Food Chemical News is moderating a Food Sabotage and Bioterrorism Mitigation audio conference Monday, March 18, 2002, from 2-4 p.m. (eastern time). It is designed for senior executives, legal staff, HR managers, and anyone involved in managing risk, security, and quality control. Executives can participate via telephone from their offices. By using a speakerphone, multiple people at an office can ask questions and participate at no additional charge.
Speakers for the audio conference are: Lester S. Rosen, JD, president of Employment Screening Resources Inc.; Michael M. Cramer, vice president of food safety and quality assurance, NMA Member Specialty Brands Inc., and the author of a NMA Heads up for HACCP issue on biosecurity; and, Jim Rodgers, CFE, a security and risk assessment consultant for Amsec International.
The registration fee, per site, is $149 by March 8, and $197 thereafter. To register, call 800-775-7654 or 715-833-5426 and refer to seminar # FCN6884-0.
According to a report in the New York Times, certain companies are developing electronic noses to detect specific odors. Just as a USDA beagle learns through repeated exposure to sniff out agricultural products at airports, the electronic nose can be programmed to recognize an odor.
Using various technologies, from metal oxides that react differently to the components of a smell to graphite sensors that swell after absorbing certain vapors, the electronic nose records a pattern and stores it. Such devices are already used by large U.S. wine concerns to test corks and barrels, and now at least one company, Alpha M.O.S., is seeking partners in government and industry to offset costs in developing a nose to sniff out Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli in foods. Alpha says its goal is to mass produce bacteria sniffing snouts.
Of course, electronic noses, which may have several dozen sensors, still limp miserably behind the human model, which has about one million receptors – not to mention the canine nose, with roughly 100 million. Nevertheless, it is sometimes impossible for the human nose to detect some things, and there may be great potential for electronic noses if they can be programmed to detect such scents.
California State Veterinarian Richard Breitmeyer was honored twice during the recent veterinary conference. He was presented with USDA/APHIS’s Animal Health Award and the National Assembly of Chief Livestock Health Officials’ annual award for outstanding contribution to U.S. animal health in a regulatory field.
NMA/AMI Listeria WORKSHOP
NMA, in conjunction with the AMI Foundation, is sponsoring on March 20-21, 2002 an education program to address the control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat plants. This workshop presents a comprehensive view of the current industry best practices on controlling Listeria in the RTE processing environment. If you plan to attend, call the hotel immediately to reserve your room at The Westin Tabor Center in Denver, CO: (303) 572-9100. Please call or e-mail the AMI Foundation if you have questions. Contact Randy Huffman at (703) 841-2400 or [email protected].
Provision X, a web-based private network founded by IBP, Excel, Farmland National Beef, Farmland Foods, Gold Kist and Tyson, entered into an agreement to be purchased by iTradeNetwork (ITN) for $70 million. ITN’s charter is to become the only online perishable marketplace. “ITN and Provision X combined is a powerful collaborative solution that will deliver significant value for the entire supply chain,” commented Tyson Fresh Meats and Retail Group President Dick Bond.
EPA proposed last week new wastewater controls. The 350-page proposal outlines guidelines for technology-based effluent limitations and new standards for discharge associated with the operation of new and existing meat processing and rendering facilities. It has a 60-day comment period. EPA estimates that its proposal would reduce discharges of conventional pollutants by at least 32 million pounds per year at a cost of $80 million (year 1999 $, pre-tax) on an annual basis. Comments may be sent by e-mail to [email protected]. The proposal is available from NMA as a pdf, e-mail [email protected]to request a copy.
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 Jeremy Russell
March 4, 2002
USDA MIFFED OVER FAULTY GAO REPORT
Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman’s comments regarding the GAO Report on BSE were released February 26. The Secretary stated that USDA “and the Department of Health and Human Services have been aggressive and proactive for well over a decade to prevent BSE from entering the United States. No cases of BSE have been found in U.S. cattle nor have any cases of the human form, variant CJD, been detected.
“While we support the GAO’s efforts to examine ways to strengthen the government’s ongoing efforts to prevent BSE, the report fails to appropriately recognize the conclusions and recommendations made last year by Harvard University in its comprehensive, 3-year study on BSE.” The Harvard study showed that the risk of BSE occurring the in the U.S. is extremely low and that protection systems in place would prevent it from spreading if it had ever or did ever enter the country.
“We have concerns that despite extensive comments on the draft report, the GAO did not correct the scientific and technical errors that appear in the final report,” said Veneman in her statement. “As well, in examining recommendations, the GAO report does not appropriately consider the additional actions that have been taken by federal agencies to strengthen BSE programs.”
FSIS CONSTITUENT UPDATE AVAILABLE BY E-MAIL
FSIS has established a listserv service where you will be able to receive the FSIS Constituent Update and Agency press and recall releases via e-mail. FSIS encourages those interested to take advantage of this convenient and rapid method of getting FSIS news. Those currently receiving these items by fax will continue to do so until May 31. At that time, information will be sent via the listserv only.
NMA was invited to assist in testing the listserve by USDA Constituent Affairs Specialist Marianne Elbertson and has so far found the service exemplary. Subscribing is simple and easy to do by going to the “Constituent Update” page at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/update/update.htm.
OSHA LAUNCHES ‘COMPREHENSIVE INSPECTION’ AT OSCAR MAYER
An Occupational Safety and Health Administration announcement that it would be conducting a “comprehensive inspection” of an Oscar Mayer facility made headlines late last month. The OSHA investigators said they would be inspecting “every room” of the meat packaging plant and interviewing 10% of the employees after a December ammonia release killed one man and injured another only one month after an employee had been hurt in a serious injury accident.
A local news team interviewed employees of the plant following the accidents. One employee told the cameras, “We that work there, we’re all scared to death.”
REMINDER: FARM BILL PENDING
The Farm Bill now pending in committee at the U.S. Congress requires your urgent attention and action. It is very important that you contact your elected Representatives and Senators and let them know your views on the following specific items. You should encourage them to relay your views to the members on the Conference Committee which has the Bill under consideration. For guidance on this important issue contact the NMA office at (510) 763-1533 or via e-mail at [email protected].
True food allergies affect a relatively small percentage of people nationwide. Food intolerances – as well as consumers' false associations between food and illness – are much more common than actual allergic reactions. Nevertheless, adverse physical reactions to food are of growing concern to both consumers and to food product manufacturers. Liability and recall issues, as well as recent changes to labeling laws, are having a significant impact on the way food manufacturers develop and process their products. “Food Allergens: Issues and Solutions for the Food Product Manufacturer” will be held April 9 & 10, 2002 at the Hotel Sofitel O'Hare in Chicago, (Rosemont) Illinois. This is a seminar for personnel in production, manufacturing, engineering and product development. As well as, marketing professionals. Public relations, crisis management teams, dieticians, legal personnel, ingredient suppliers, consumer complaint respondents and QA/QC professionals. Complete seminar information available at http://www.farrp.org/workshop.htm or call (404) 252-3663.
ANIMAL DISEASE SURVEILLANCE
The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) will be hosting a National Dialogue on Animal Disease Surveillance in Arlington, VA on March 12. Participants will hear presentations on current animal disease surveillance measures, as well as recommendations for enhancing surveillance activity. Attendees will also participate in discussion groups to shape a comprehensive national animal disease surveillance system. Register online at http://www.animalagriculture.org/or call (270) 782-9798.
UPCOMING AG APPROPRIATIONS HEARINGS
The following dates mark important testimonies before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee:
When Russia’s Agriculture Ministry announced a stoppage in import licenses for U.S. chicken, until questions about antibiotics and preservatives are cleared up, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick issued a joint statement to say that there was “no reason whatsoever that would justify a ban on [U.S. poultry] products.” Half of the U.S. poultry export sales world-wide are to the Russian market.