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 28, 2003




Last week, NMA convened a working group of ground beef manufacturers in Dallas, TX to update the 1998 NMA Guidelines for Production of Ground Beef and to develop a new Best Practices document which includes the recommendations out of the Processing Group from the E. coli Summit meeting held in San Antonio, TX in January. A small, dedicated group worked intensively for the day under the leadership of Dr. Kerri Harris of Texas A&M University, who had previously worked with NMA on the 1998 Guidelines.  Those Guidelines, published after the Hudson Foods outbreak, were placed on the USDA website as guidance for the industry. They have been widely used as the benchmark guidance for ground beef production.


Much has happened in the intervening four years, including the Supreme Beef litigation, several large recalls, and many changes in regulatory requirements. Regulatory HACCP as it has been implemented has forced grinders to include CCPs that are not driven by science, since no true science-based CCPs are available in a grinding process. Technology is beginning to emerge that may change this situation. It will most surely be welcomed by grinders!


NMA expects to have a draft of the new Best Practices document ready for broader circulation and comment in May. We appreciate the commitment that the working group made to meet last week and begin the process.




NMA’s Executive Director participated in a meeting last week in Albuquerque, NM when a majority of the state’s state-inspected meat and poultry plants agreed to form a state association, New Mexico Meat & Poultry Association. The group’s elected leaders are as follows: President: Rick De Los Santos, Pecos Valley Meat; Vice President: Lee Dixon, High Country Meats, Inc.; Treasurer: Donald Martinez, Zenitram Industries; Secretary: Wayne Pinchart, New Mexico Processing, Inc.; and Ramon Villalobos, Villalobos Bros. Enterprises. These officers are to complete the organization of the group and sign up dues-paying members. The first priority of the group is to link with other groups interested in advancing the issue of interstate shipment of state inspected meat and poultry. They identified a list of other group interests, including the dissemination of scientific, technical and regulatory information. NMA’s Rosemary Mucklow pledged support to help the group get established, and they retained the services of Michael Paquette with Success Partners as Executive Director to assist them.


Page 2




USDA, AMS, Market News has started to release an enhanced LM_XB463 beef report. Weekly cutout and primal values are given for Prime, Branded, Choice, Select, Ungraded, and Comprehensive. Additionally, load count is given for each grade, as well as the types of sales. Contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for an overview that explains the difference in cutout values between the traditional LM_XB403 daily boxed beef cutout USDA has published for many years, and the newly released LM_XB463 weekly comprehensive boxed beef cutout made possible with the implementation of Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR).


Both cutouts are derived from boxed beef sales of fed, non-dairy source steer and heifer beef. The traditional daily boxed beef cutout started under voluntary reporting and continuing under MPR, is limited to negotiated sales delivering within 21 days domestically, commonly referred to as the “spot” market.  The daily cutout also is limited to product from the USDA Choice and Select grades. A weekly average of the daily cutout is published every Friday. The new weekly comprehensive cutout is based on all boxed beef sales and combined into a single weighted average carcass cutout value. Additionally, there are supplemental cutouts reflecting total sales of Prime, Branded, Choice, Select and Ungraded product. The key point to remember is the daily LM_XB403 Choice and Select cutouts are driven by the spot market only, whereas the total Choice and Select cutouts from the weekly LM_XB463 comprehensive report includes the spot market as well as formula and contract sales, along with export sales and negotiated business done out front.  The beef sales criteria used in calculating the USDA cutouts are further defined in the overview.




Pitting one virus against another may prove to be another key element in the quest for enhanced food safety. In serendipitous fashion, scientists studying new antibiotics discovered that the virus CEV1 “eats” E. coli O157:H7, reported British newspaper, Independent. recently reported that Washington state researchers said this harmless virus that kills E. coli O157:H7 has been discovered in sheep.


Reportedly, Andrew Brabban, a microbiologist at Evergreen State College in Washington, told attendees this month at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology in Edinburgh, Scotland, that in a small trial in sheep, CEV1 reduced numbers of E. coli by 99% in two days! Scientists also found that CEV1 killed 16 out of 18 toxic strains of E. coli. According to the report, if bacteria develop resistance, CEV1 can “out-evolve” them. Learn more about the study at the Evergreen State website,



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.




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!




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.




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.


Page 3




USDA recently reported that the prevalence of Salmonella has declined for meat and poultry products over the past two years (see last week’s Lean Trimmings). However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported last Thursday that its data does not indicate a sustained decline in major foodborne infections from Salmonella, as well as other major pathogens. Not surprisingly, some groups have used this discrepancy as a subterfuge to criticize the meat and poultry industries on food safety.


It is important to recognize that Salmonella is found in other commodities besides meat and poultry. In a report last Monday in Food Chemical News (FCN), Steve Cohen, spokesman for FSIS, pointed out that CDC’s numbers include infections from all foods and all serotypes of Salmonella. Further, Matthew Moore, a physician with CDC’s National Center for Infectious Diseases, reportedly said that the most common serotype of Salmonella, S. typhimurium, which is commonly associated with beef products, has declined consistently in the last seven years. “That’s good news,” he said in the FCN report.


CDC pointed out certain limitations to its findings. Namely, some illnesses are acquired through nonfoodborne routes (e.g., contaminated water, person-to-person contact, and direct animal exposure) and reported rates do not represent foodborne sources exclusively. CDC’s FoodNet data provides the most comprehensive information available for these infections, but it admits that the findings shouldn’t necessarily be generalized to the entire U.S. population.


Of the 58,085 samples of meat and poultry FSIS took last year, 4.3% contained the pathogen Salmonella, a decrease from 5% of 45,941 samples of meat and poultry testing positive in 2001. In fact, Salmonella across all commodities except ground chicken dropped in this period. And, the overall incidence of Salmonella in ground chicken is significantly below the baselines for prevalence. “These data tell us that we are making steady and sustained progress in reducing the incidence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano in a press release.


Those in the industry are intimately aware that food safety is a continuous and collaborative effort. NMA is pleased by the overall progress made thus far, as quantified by the FSIS data, and will continue to work towards heightened food safety. NMA looks forward to more successes to come.



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.


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:



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.


Page 4




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                                                                Thursday, May 1, 2003

8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. –                                                         7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. –

Technical Documentation Workshop                                              General Industry Session


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




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




USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported last week that DNA sequencing analysis confirmed that the Texas Exotic Newcastle disease (END) outbreak was caused by a separate introduction of the virus, not by the movement of virus from affected areas in California, Nevada, or Arizona. From this, APHIS surmised that efforts to contain the virus in the existing quarantine areas in the three states have been effective and educational and surveillance efforts are having a positive impact. The Agency further reported that no new commercial layer flocks in California have been affected by END since March 26, 2003. As of Wednesday, 28 premises in California awaited depopulation, and the number of premises released from quarantine had risen to 124. Also, a total of 2,469 premises in all affected states have been depopulated, totaling 3,521,545 birds.




The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is committed to ensuring that packers, producers and others know and understand the impact of the new COOL regulations as they relate to the Packers and Stockyards Act. Visit GIPSA’s website at for more information.



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 28, 2003




Claude Earl Fox, Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and co-chair of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on Review of the use of Scientific Criteria and Performance Standards, led a public briefing last week in Washington, D.C. on the release of the preliminary report, “Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food.”


Fox noted that food safety criteria, such as performance standards in food processing plants, are in place to protect public health but they cannot be directly linked to specific public health outcomes. Thus, it is hard to identify the benefits and even harder to measure the effectiveness within the entire food safety regulatory system.


Confronting these issues, he said that the committee proposes that clear links be established between food safety criteria and public health objectives, and the first step would be linkage of illnesses to the source foods. To this end, regulatory agencies need a clearer vision of which points in the food chain to regulate, and then measure the regulations. To accomplish this, the agencies need to monitor pathogen levels, correlate with food safety data, optimize interventions to control the hazards associated with each food and confirm intervention achievability. Further, the committee suggested that risk assessment, the use of food safety objectives and statistical process control are helpful. It proposed guidelines for developing science-based food safety criteria using these tools. It also suggested that 12 federal agencies with food safety responsibilities, as well as multiple state and local authorities, work together to develop as seamless as possible surveillance data so that interventions that would best protect public health can be applied.


The committee also said, responding directly to the charge from USDA/FDA, that several food safety criteria need re-evaluation and some new performance standards are needed. They also emphasized the need for more research that will help regulators focus on stages of the food continuum where improvements can best be attained from the farm to home handling of food.




NMA’s Government Relations Liaison Shawna Thomas attended the NAS briefing last week and provided a memorandum covering the discussion. Members may request a copy from Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533. Unfortunately, the media response has been to focus on one recommendation where the committee strayed from addressing the scientific issues and opined about questions of legal authority, with particular reference to Supreme Beef Processors v. USDA and Nebraska Beef v. USDA. The experts who presented to the Committee did not include lawyers who could provide the appropriate expertise in these non-scientific areas. Thus, the committee’s comments about the statutory authority of USDA are entirely inappropriate and beyond the scope of its assignment. It is regrettable that the traditionally high respect for scientific expertise and independence accorded to NAS has been tarnished by its comments on non-scientific issues.


The report particularly failed to respond to important questions put to the panel. Instead the report discusses and makes recommendations on a number of subjects that have drawn criticism from both industry and consumer groups. Of particular concern to NMA are references to the need for additional enforcement authority which is not only unnecessary, but which should not have been advanced in a report as unfocused as this one. Perhaps the major consequence of this report is that it has tainted the reputation of NAS for scientific expertise and independence.


Page 2




A new campaign obscures the distinction between meat and fat. Led by Meatless Monday, a non-profit organization reportedly working in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and supported by twenty-eight other public health schools, including Ivy League Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the campaign charges “contradictory messages about health and nutrition have confused Americans about what we should eat.”  Yet, contradiction is perpetuated on Meatless Monday’s own website when it advocates giving up meat once a week and “beyond Monday” advises us to eat lean meats.


Meatless Monday states that we eat too much meat and not enough of the fruits, vegetables and whole grains that help prevent heart disease, stroke and cancer. This seems to imply that if we ate less meat, that consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains would rise, which isn’t necessarily the case. Moreover, industry sources say that on average Americans are eating less than the 5 to 7 ounces of cooked lean meat recommended by USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid. In fact, 59% of Americans aren’t even meeting the minimum servings of meat recommended in the Food Guide Pyramid.


While advocating giving up meat on Mondays, at the same time the site upholds the consumption of lean meat the rest of the week, stating that “smart lifestyle changes” and “keeping healthy” include eating lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Lean meats and dairy products, coupled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, constitute a healthy, balanced diet, as outlined in USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid.


Meatless Monday’s goal to reduce consumption of saturated fat by at least 15% by 2010 can be accomplished without giving up meat every Monday. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S., affecting 7.8 million adolescent girls and women during childbearing years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Removing beef, which is the No. 3 source of iron in the American diet, for even one day could be harmful. Beef is also the No. 1 source of protein, vitamin B12 and zinc, the No. 2 source of vitamin B6 and the No. 3 source of niacin in the American diet. Additionally, Meatless Monday makes no mention of what protein source should be used to substitute for meat, which is especially disconcerting in a nutritional message purporting to represent some of the greatest educational institutions in the nation. Paradoxically, Meatless Monday claims to be based on up-to-date science about nutrition and health, but its website is riddled with inconsistencies, generalizations, as well as misleading and incomplete information.




For membership information, contact Membership Consultant

Jane Anderson at [email protected] or 510-763-1533.



Dairyland Packing, Inc. DBA Pecos Valley Meat Co., Roswell, NM

Roman Corp. (Prima Foods, Inc.), Santa Clara, CA

Overhill Farms, Inc., Vernon, CA

Western Meat, Inc., Denver, CO

Midway Meats, Inc., Centralia, WA

Old World German Sausage Co., Oakland, CA

Ranch Foods Direct, Colorado Springs, CO

Harvest Meat Co., Inc. (Sand Dollar Holdings, Inc.), National City, CA

San Miguel Meat Packaging and Distributors, La Puente, CA

Ferndale Meats, LLC, Ferndale, WA

Nebraska Beef, Ltd., Omaha, NE



CMA Food Group, LLC, Dallas, TX

Wolfson Casing Corp., Mt. Vernon, NY

VC999 Packaging Systems, Kansas City, MO

Kaiser’s Contract Cleaning Specialist, Inc., Cuba City, WI

Strategic Diagnostics, Newark, DE

Guarantek Analytical Laboratories, Denver, CO

The Stellar Group, Jacksonville, FL

Agrimetrics Associates, Inc., Midlothian, VA

Intentia Americas, Inc., Schaumberg, IL

SureBeam Corporation, Glendale Heights, IL

Chemco Products Company, Paramount, CA

John T. Hanes Company, Oklahoma, OK

S&R Consulting, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Helmut Blume, Monmouth, OR

ForPak, Hastings, MN

Aerotech Labs, Phoenix, AZ

Mionix Corp., Rocklin, CA

Dick Nash, Arlington, VA

Risco USA Corp., Stoughton, MA

Supply Systems, Dallas, TX

Ron Vallort & Associates, Oak Brook, IL

Success Partners, Inc., Mesa, AZ

Westar Trade Company, Amarillo, TX

Herb Abraham, Dale City, VA

Microbial Control Products, Denison, TX

Mol Belting Co., Grand Rapids, MI

Scan America Corp., Kansas City, MO

Emerge Interactive, Inc., Sebastian, FL

Medtrol, Inc., Niles, IL

Dupont Food Industry Solutions, College Station, TX


Limited Participation

Bay Fresh Seafoods, Moss Landing, CA

Consolidated Pet Foods, Santa Monica, CA

Newport Fish Co., So. San Francisco, CA

Seaport Meat Co., San Diego, CA

Standards Fisheries, San Pedro, CA

Tri-Marine International,  San Pedro, CA

Victor’s Market Co., Hawthorne, CA


Allied and International

J&T European Gourmet Food Deli, Santa Monica, CA

Centennial Foods, Inc., Calgary Alberta

National Marketing Food Services, Inc., Hayward, CA