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

April 21, 2003




USDA reported that the prevalence of Salmonella has declined for meat and poultry products over the past two years. Increased testing showed that of the 58,085 samples of meat and poultry taken last year, 4.3% contained the pathogen. This is a decrease from 5% of 45,941 samples of meat and poultry testing positive in 2001.


Elsa Murano, undersecretary of food safety, attributed the drop to the government’s food safety program that has been in effect since 1998, according to an Associated Press report. She said in a press release, “This positive trend in regulatory samples will hopefully translate into fewer cases of salmonellosis due to meat and poultry.” Richard Lobb, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, was cited in the AP report as saying, “There’s very little ground chicken that’s sold raw at the supermarket. Most of it would go into chicken franks, bologna, [and] sausages that are cooked before they are sold.” He added that consumers can protect themselves from illness by following cooking instructions printed on every package of poultry meat.


Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, reportedly said the government is trying to present the numbers in a positive light, and that there was a definite upward trend of Salmonella in chickens, adding, “I think the trend we’re seeing for chickens is particularly worrisome. It indicates that since the Bush administration took office that we’re actually seeing food safety declining when it comes to Salmonella in chickens.”


On the contrary, Salmonella across all commodities dropped from 5.0% to 4.3%, according to FSIS data. FSIS collects and analyzes regulatory Salmonella samples in seven categories: broilers; market hogs; cows/bulls; steer/heifer; ground beef; ground chicken; and ground turkey. In every category, Salmonella prevalence levels continue to register well below baselines set prior to the implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (PR/HACCP) system. Read more about this topic on USDA’s website at:




The Livestock and Seed Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) annual conference for USDA’s commodity purchase and distribution program for meat and fish items will take place at the Hilton Kansas City Airport, 8801 N.W. 112th Street, Kansas City, MO 64153.


Wednesday, April 30, 2003                                

8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. –                          

Technical Documentation Workshop             


3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Processors Forum


Thursday, May 1, 2003

7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. –

General Industry Session




NMA will hold a reception from 5:30-7:00 p.m. for all attendees of the AMS Industry Conference for Contractors & Suppliers (see box above). Thank you to DCS Sanitation for sponsoring this reception!




AMS will continue to post the comments it receives on the COOL voluntary guidelines on its website, even those comments received after the April 9, 2003 deadline. See page 3 for more on the COOL voluntary guidelines.




The 2003 NMA scholarship application is available at: You can also contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 to request an application. In addition, applications are available at participating university financial aid offices.



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Listening and education sessions on the Country of Origin Labeling law included in the 2002 Farm Bill will be held at various locations across the nation, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. local time. See the April 7, 2003 Herd on the Hill for dates and locations, or visit




Last Friday FSIS issued Notice 11-03 which supercedes and revokes FSIS Directive 10,010.1, in that inspectors are instructed to collect raw ground beef samples whenever they receive FSIS form 10, 210-3 for microbiological sampling regardless if the establishments meets the exempt criteria of 10, 010.1, VI. B. FSIS indicated its intention in an October 7, 2002 Federal Register Notice to revoke all exemptions.


The Notice informs inspection personnel that the resumption of sampling will commence in May for all plants producing raw ground beef; hamburger; ground veal; veal or beef patties; or other products meeting the standard of identity in 9 CFR 319.15 (a-c). The Notice reminds inspection personnel to provide plants with adequate notice to enable the establishment to hold product. Also mentioned is that prior to sample submission the pre-shipment review must be completed. However, no specific instructions are provided for when during the production day samples are to be drawn.


The Notice also indicates that inspection personnel are to provide data on the establishment’s production volume for raw ground products with the submission of laboratory documentation.


Lastly, the Notice indicates the expectation that in the event of positive results establishments will take corrective and preventive measures in accordance with 417.3. The Notice goes on to mention that inspection personnel may pull one or more verification sample(s) in order to determine the effectiveness of the establishment’s corrective and preventive measure. Contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the notice and the associated Olsson, Frank, and Weeda memo.




The Wall Street Journal recently reported that consumer groups aren’t the only ones questioning the safety of irradiated food in school lunches. U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona reportedly said he didn’t believe there was enough scientific evidence gathered on the long-term effects of irradiation. Individual school districts can decide whether or not to include irradiated meat in lunch programs, but some government officials reportedly believe that many districts won’t sign up for irradiated meat because of the controversy.


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:




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 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.




An executive summary of the Beef Industry E. coli Summit was published shortly after the January meeting, and can be viewed at under “Research.”  The executive summary was mailed out to NMA general members. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] to request a copy by mail.


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USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is posting on its website all of the comments it has received on the COOL Guidelines, first published last October 8, to implement Country of Origin Labeling provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill. There are close to 1,000 comments posted on AMS’s website, and they can each be viewed at Simply scanning the submissions, it is clear that the retail food industry, the first line of those who will be assessed civil penalties for non-compliance, have weighed in quite heavily, from the senior managers right down to the counter managers. Also, those who sought this provision, led by R-CALF and other northern tier organizations, have commented in support. Less conspicuous among the commenters are meat packers and processors, the entities that will bear the greatest burden to provide born-in and raised-in information, and who will also be subject to civil penalties if they fail to have the supporting records for the product they sell to covered retailers.


Comments on the guidelines, which are not formal rulemaking, can still be made, even after the April 9 date provided in last October’s Federal Register, but it is unlikely that AMS will add such late-filed comments to the web site. The next big event on COOL will be the listening sessions, and since these are USDA events, there will be formal records and another opportunity for the filing of comments. We encourage NMA members to attend listening sessions in their area. Once these are completed, USDA is required by law to develop a proposed rule to implement, and this rule will be published in the Federal Register and provide for a comment period.


Finally, a longtime friend chatted with us this morning. He serves as a Director of a rural bank that accepts dairy and ranching livestock as loan collateral. He keeps up-to-date with NMA’s activities, and recently he was asking banking officials what they would do about livestock that lack born-in and raised-in information and consequently will have no market value at all once COOL is mandated. That livestock must be diverted exclusively to food channels that do not end up in a retail counter subject to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930 (PACA). (See last week’s newsletter item on COOL to better understand who is and who is not covered.) He found that bankers and their livestock clients with loans are very unaware of the potential impact that COOL will have on their ability to finance livestock operations.



May 28-29 - Beyond Basics

-- College Station, TX

June 12-13/13-14 (tentative) - Animal Handling

-- Dallas, TX

July 17-18 - Advanced HACCP

-- Los Angeles, CA

August 21-23 - Basic HACCP in Spanish

-- Los Angeles, CA

September 18-20 - Basic HACCP

-- San Francisco, CA

October 1-2 - Beyond Basics


-- College Station, TX


Contact NMA at (510) 763-1533 for additional information and registration materials.




Tuesday, April 29, 2003, San Ramon, CA


FOODSAFE Systems, Inc. will host a 4-hour seminar entitled “Security Systems for Food Manufacturers.”

Frank Gillis, USDA/FSIS Alameda District Office, HACCP Coordinator and Consumer Safety Officer, will discuss FSIS Directive 5420.1, “Homeland Security Threat Condition Response Food Security Monitoring Procedure,” and answer questions. 


Seating is limited! For more information or to register, please contact FOODSAFE today at 800-809-8586. 



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.


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According to a press release, FSIS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) which allows for the detailing of expanded numbers of PHS Commissioned Corps Officers to FSIS. These officers will help to enhance FSIS’s scientific capacity to protect the public health by ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and egg products. They will assist in responding to foodborne disease outbreaks and in investigating food security threats.


The new agreement allows for approximately 30 more officers to be assigned agency-wide into specialized areas where there is a greater demand for scientific knowledge and judgment. The Officers include veterinarians, scientists, dietitians, environmental health officers, physicians and nurses. For more information visit:




USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of March 2003. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 60.0%, down from 61.7% in February. Select was 36.4%, up from 34.5% the previous month. And Prime was 3.7%, down from 3.8% in February. 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




NAMP is offering its Center of the Plate Training course May 6-8, 2003 at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.  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 $699 registration fee includes a copy of NAMP’s flagship publications, the Meat Buyers Guide and Poultry Buyers Guide, together a $75 value.  To download an agenda and registration information, please go to or call NAMP at (800) 368-3043.


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

April 21, 2003




FSIS published a notice and request for comments in the Federal Register entitled, “Announcement of and Request for Comment on FSIS’ Tentative Determinations on the Availability of Salmonella Test Results,” on April 16, 2003. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 to request the Olsson, Frank, and Weeda memo on this notice. View the notice at:


By the notice, the Agency announced its intention to make public the results of its testing for Salmonella on livestock and poultry carcasses and in raw ground meat and poultry products. It intends to post the results of all completed sampling sets of the Salmonella testing it conducts as part of its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) verification activities on its website. FSIS also plans to make results of its Salmonella performance standard testing available to establishments on a sample-by-sample basis, rather than upon completion of each sampling set. FSIS’s plan is in response to a petition submitted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, suggestions made by meat and poultry processors, and suggestions made by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF).


Comments on this notice must be received on or before May 16, 2003. Please submit one original and two copies of written comments to the FSIS Docket Room, Docket No. 01-040N, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 112 Cotton Annex, 300 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20250-3700. Comments may also be submitted via fax to (202) 205-0381. Contact Daniel Engeljohn, Ph.D, Acting Assistant Deputy Administrator for Policy Analysis and Formulation, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250-3700, (202) 205-0495, for more information.



Leaders of NMA and Southwest Meat Association (SMA) met in Washington, DC recently for their annual visit.  The concerns that were expressed on Capitol Hill and to the Department of Agriculture were varied, but the issue that kept recurring amongst the leaders was the reactionary quality of our government and public relations. This industry often fights an uphill battle against unscientific food safety legislation. One group or another attacks the meat processing and packing industry on a regular basis, and time and resources are spent reacting to them.  The meat industry’s efforts to be proactive and make more favorable scientific changes to the industry are much more crucial.


The question then is, what problems exist in the industry that we can develop plans to fix? Representatives and USDA officials posed a question to NMA’s and SMA’s group of leaders multiple times: what is your plan?  We have to define the problems, identify the solutions, and share them with our partners in food safety. Please share your thoughts and suggestions with NMA Government Relations Liaison Shawna Thomas at [email protected] or (202) 518-6383.


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On April 16, 2003 AMS published a proposed rule entitled, “National Organic Program; Proposed Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances,” in the Federal Register. View it on the Web at:


The proposed rule would amend USDA’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) “to reflect recommendations submitted to the Secretary by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from June 6, 2000 through October 20, 2002.” The proposed rule would add ten substances, along with any restrictive annotations, to the National List; revise the annotations of two substances; make eight technical revisions; and also invites public comment on the use of ethylene in organic crop production. Comments are due by April 28, 2003. Send them by mail to Richard H. Mathews, Program Manager, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-TMP-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250; by e-mail to [email protected]; and by fax to (202) 205-7808. Please reference docket number TMD-02-03. Contact Toni A. Strother, Agricultural Marketing Specialist at (202) 720-3252 or (202) 205-7808 (fax) for more information.




APHIS published an interim rule and request for comments in the Federal Register on April 16, 2003. The notice, entitled “Exotic Newcastle Disease; Additions to Quarantined Area,” amends the exotic Newcastle disease regulations by quarantining El Paso and Hudspeth Counties, TX, and Dona Ana, Luna, and Otero Counties, NM, and prohibits or restricts the movement of birds, poultry, products, and materials that could spread the disease from the quarantined area. The interim rule was effective April 10, 2003. Comments must be received by June 16, 2003. View the notice at:


Please send an original and three copies of written comments to Docket No. 02-117-5, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Be sure to reference Docket No. 02-117-5. Submit comments by e-mail to [email protected]. Comments must be contained in the body of the message, and not sent as an attachment. Please include your name and address in the message, and “Docket No. 02-117-5” on the subject line.




On April 16, 2003 FSIS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register entitled “Nutrition Labeling: Nutrient Content Claims on Multi-Serve, Meal-Type Meat and Poultry Products.” By doing so, the agency is proposing to “amend its nutrition labeling regulations to change the definition of ‘meal-type’ products to allow for nutrient content claims on multiple-serve food containers, to adopt the definition of ‘main dish’ used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and to define how meal-type products and main dishes should be nutritionally labeled.” NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 to request the Olsson, Frank, and Weeda memo on this notice. View the notice at:


Please send an original and two copies of comments to the FSIS Docket Clerk, Room 102, Cotton Annex Building, 300 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20250-3700, by June 16, 2003. Contact Robert C. Post, Ph.D., Director, Labeling and Consumer Protection Staff, Office of Policy, Program and Employee Development, FSIS, at (202) 205-0279 or by fax at (202) 205-3625, for more information.