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 Jeremy Russell

April 29, 2002




After fierce debate, it appears that the joint Senate/House committee in charge of hashing out a Farm Bill has reached agreement. According to the Associated Press, the total bill will increase overall agriculture spending by $73.5 billion over the next 10 years. Existing programs are expected to cost $107 billion over the same period. The agreement does not include a ban on livestock ownership by meat packers, nor does it include a study on the issue.  However, it does include country of origin labeling, the language of which was finalized today.


The final language includes voluntary origin labeling beginning September 30, 2002. A mandatory program will begin on September 30, 2004.  The Secretary of Agriculture will not have any discretion in implementing the mandatory labeling requirement. Food Marketing Institute (FMI) predicts that the mandate will cost well over $1 billion a year. “Labeling beef would be particularly problematic and costly,” said FMI President and CEO Tim Hammonds in an April 26 statement. “Supermarkets receive boxes with meat from cattle born and raised in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Many cattle are born in one country and raised in another. Some are processed and packed in yet a third. A labeling mandate for beef would require costly changes throughout the supply chain — with retailers and consumers ultimately bearing the expense.”


U.S. beef product will be defined as that which “is exclusively from an animal that is exclusively born, raised and slaughtered in the United States, including from an animal exclusively born and raised in Alaska or Hawaii and transported for a period not to exceed 21 days through Canada into the United States and slaughtered in the United States.” According to a report by Cattle Buyers Weekly editor Steve Kay, the inclusion of this provision has “shocked many observers as it goes beyond what either House or Senate supporters of [country of origin labeling] had proposed.”


The final language of the total Farm Bill is expected sometime in the coming week.




NMA's Strategic Planning Committee met last Friday in Las Vegas for six hours of top leadership commitment planning to review and update NMA's Long Range Strategic Plan. Such a meeting was timely, coming when the industry NMA represents is facing remarkable new challenges. “The discussion was enormously productive,” said NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow, “and over the next several months NMA's members will learn more about the strategic plan to accomplish NMA's mission: To be the most effective meat association in serving its members.”


The Strategic Planning Committee’s members include the chairs of all committees, the members of NMA's Executive Committee (the officers and one at large representative), and some at large members to assure balance to represent small/large firms and geographical distribution. Such balance demonstrates the broad support that NMA enjoys in the meat industry, and shows why it is recognized and respected even by its adversaries. NMA appreciates the expert guidance of Dr. Kerri Harris of Texas A&M University who acted as facilitator – not an easy task among highly diverse meat industry interests.


Page 2




USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elsa Murano, is now scheduled to give the keynote address at the 2002 Global HACCP Conference in Chicago, Illinois, May 15-17. “This conference is more than just dissemination of information. It is an opportunity for dialogue that will help strengthen our food safety programs,” said Kerri Harris, executive director of the International HACCP Alliance. The two-day conference will feature the exploration of key issues related to verification and validation, closing the gap between scientific and regulatory HACCP, the implementation and maintenance of HACCP systems, plus more critical issues for the food industry. 


A block of rooms is available at a discount at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. To reserved a hotel room, call The Drake Hotel at 800-553-7253 and ask for the International HACCP Alliance block. For conference registration information, contact the International HACCP Alliance office at 979-862-3643 or go the Alliance website at




The cattle market revealed its marked lack of stability last week as live cattle prices declined steeply and futures showed volatility. If the Russian chicken export ban is not resolved soon, there may be too many competing proteins in the supermarket to guarantee the summer grilling season will mean recovery. Cattle Buyers Weekly reports that “even if beef demand improves, it will coincide with an increase in supplies of market-ready cattle from now on through summer.” But beef demand appears weaker than last year and it’s hard to see how the overabundance of beef can be disposed of without significantly reducing wholesale prices. Analysts say this could push live cattle prices below $60 per cwt. sometime between June and September. Steve Kay, editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly, will have more on the current conundrum in his Monthly Meat Lookout in next week’s NMA newsletter.




The NMA Scholarship Foundation noted an error in its application. The correct zip code is 94612. The deadline for receiving the scholarship application into the Foundation office will be extended until May 15, 2002 to allow for possible post office delays for those applications submitted to the incorrect zip code.




aLF Ventures, LLC, unveiled a website dedicated to food safety and activated lactoferrin. Made from an all-natural milk protein, the microbial intervention activated lactoferrin has been approved by USDA and FDA and is in the final stages of development. NMA member Farmland National Beef expects to the first company to use it on its fresh beef products. The new website,, will feature information about the processing and important food safety resources from government, industry and consumer groups.


Page 3




The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a report in its proceedings on April 23 warning that “antibiotic use is known to promote the development of antibiotic resistance,” and noting in particular the substantial controversy surrounding the impact of agriculture antibiotic use (AAU). NAS calls the continuing emergence of antibiotic resistant (AR) bacteria a major public health concern. The report describes a mathematical model NAS has developed to understand the prevalence of such bacteria in the human population.


“AAU may cause AR bacterial infection in humans by two different processes,” wrote the report’s authors. “First, AAU increases the frequency of AR in zoonotic pathogens such as Campylobacter or Salmonella. These pathogens are typically acquired through exposure to contaminated animal food products.” … “Second, AR bacteria from food animals may facilitate the development of AR in human commensal bacteria which ordinarily colonize humans without causing infections. … Commensal bacteria occasionally cause opportunistic infections such as wound or bloodstream infections; the bacteria causing these infections may have originated from the normal flora inhabiting the infected human’s gut or from contact with another human.”


Using its mathematical modeling system NAS concluded that AAU could cause “dramatic changes” in the presence of certain AR bacteria. In the case that they analyzed, the change would be essentially invisible until it was epidemic. “Once an increase was detectable, the spread of AR bacteria would be irreversible.” The report finally concluded that: “AAU may introduce new AR strains into the human population; this introduction threatens the public health when important evolutionary events occur first in bacteria populations associated with animals and then move into bacteria populations associated with humans. Some medical impacts may occur as a result of heavy veterinary therapeutic use, not just for animal growth promotion; antibiotic use selects for AR regardless of why it is used.” NAS suggests restricting AAU before AR becomes a significant problem, arguing that to wait could be to wait too long.




NMA is hosting a “simple to attend” 1-hour teleconference on New Employer Guidelines and Legal Requirements for 2002. During this meeting there will be a “Questions and Answers” session to ensure you get the information you need. The teleconference will be held on May 7 from 9:00am-10:00am PDT. E-mail [email protected] for registration information or call (510) 763-1533.




A study by Texas Tech found that certain strains of lactic acid, when fed to cattle, can reduce the presence of E. coli O157:H7. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it does give us an intervention in the feed environment,” said Mindy Brashears, a scientist with Texas Tech. The probiotic intervention must next gain FDA approval, which could take years. The research was funded by the American Meat Institute Foundation.


Page 4




Burger King’s parent company, Diageo PLC of London, has reportedly received about eight bids on the fast food concern. Bids on the country’s second largest fast food chain are estimated at $2 billion to $2.5 billion. A preliminary deal is expected mid-June and the final sale could close in the second half of 2002. The San Francisco Chronicle reported April 27 that Texas Pacific Group (TPG) is considered ahead of other bidders due to an informal alliance it has struck with the National Franchisee Association, which represents about 90% of Burger King franchisees. However, there has been only one round of bidding so far and it is very early in the process.


In other Burger King news, the restaurant chain rolled out its new vegetarian burger on April 9. The “BK Veggie” is the first non-meat hamburger offered by a fast food chain. Topped with reduced-fat mayonnaise, lettuce and tomatoes on the sesame seed bun, the BK Veggie has attracted the vociferous support of activist. PETA has dropped its “Murder King” campaign and transformed the website,, into an advertisement site for the new Burger King menu option. PETA members were even handing out free Veggie Burgers at a Miami Beach Burger King restaurant, according to a PETA press release.




University of Georgia scientists have successfully cloned a slaughtered cow, a process which they say may eventually allow cattle producers to select and clone the highest quality beef from their stock. The genetic material for the healthy female Angus-Hereford calf was taken from the kidney region of a cow two days after it was killed. “There are a lot of animals that get processed every day, and there’s a select few that are of the highest quality,” lead researcher Steven Stice told the Associated Press. “That’s what we want.” Differences in feed and other environmental factors would ensure that no cloned animal was exactly like its predecessor. More study and government approval await before cloned meat comes to the public.



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

April 29, 2002




USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano announced plans for two new meat safety directives to control pathogens in plants that produce ground beef. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors will use these new directives to make determinations as to whether plants have specifically addressed Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in their HACCP plans. According to an Agency press release, “Ground beef plants that do not employ effective decontamination strategies, or that do not require their suppliers to do so as part of their PR/HACCP systems, will be targeted for increased verification testing by FSIS, above that which is already conducted.”


Murano stated in a speech to the National Food Policy Conference that, “A key part of pathogen reduction is a strong HACCP system. These directives are an example of how we can better tap HACCP’s potential.” 


The directives will be issued within the next several weeks and will be in place while the department works through the rule-making process to include the directives in its food safety regulations.




Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced April 26 that FSIS Acting Administrator Margaret Glavin will be leaving the Agency to take, under an FSIS intergovernmental personnel act agreement, a leadership position with Resources For the Future, a tax exempt organization dedicated to improving environmental and natural resource policymaking worldwide. William Hudnall will serve as the new acting administrator for FSIS, until a permanent administrator is appointed. Prior to his appointment, Hudnall was the deputy administrator for Business Services for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs.  In this capacity, he provided direction in the areas of human resources, finance, procurement and contracting for three USDA agencies.  In addition, Hudnall had previously served for more than 20 years at FSIS, where he held numerous positions including associate administrator, deputy administrator for management, and assistant deputy for policy, program development and evaluation.  During his tenure at FSIS, Hudnall oversaw FSIS budget activity and helped create the Agency’s first formal strategic plan.  He also headed the working group that created USDA’s Guidance for Beef Grinders to Better Protect Public Health.




The Agency has published a backgrounder, Biosecurity and the Food Supply, which provides an overview of USDA and FSIS biosecurity activities and coordination efforts since September 11, 2001. Access the backgrounder at:


Page 2




FSIS published a final rule last week that, effective July 31, 2002, will allow the Agency to share a firm’s distribution list with state and federal agencies in the event of a meat or poultry product recall. In the past, FSIS could not release distribution lists to state and federal agencies because that would have made the information public under the Freedom of Information Act. Under FOIA, once information is made public, it must be released to anyone who requests it, including the general public and industry. FSIS recognized that if it made the information regularly available to the public, firms would be unwilling to share this information with the Agency.  Under the new rule, release of this information to state and federal government officials does not result in the information being made public. In order to receive the distribution lists, state agencies must provide a written statement verifying their authority to protect the information from public disclosure, and state and federal agencies must provide a written agreement stating that the information will not be disclosed without the submitters’ permission.




The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week published in the Federal Register an extension of the comment period for the agency’s proposed effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) for wastewater discharges for meat and poultry operations. The new deadline will be June 25, 2002.




Positive E. coli O157:H7 test results for raw ground beef are now posted on FSIS web site at The posting includes generic information about the source of the sample, e.g. federal or retail establishment, and includes links to press releases in the event that the positive test resulted in a recall. FSIS began this microbiological testing program to detect E. coli O157:H7 in raw ground beef on October 17, 1994. The results available online go back to last year.




The Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government’s Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia will hold a hearing on the federal school lunch program tomorrow. The hearing will be to address issues of food safety. FDA and USDA are expected to testify at the meeting.




Roberto Salazar was recently named administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and officially took his new post April 22. Most importantly for our members, FNS oversees the National School Lunch Program, but altogether it has 15 nutrition assistance programs to manage. Previously, Salazar was state director at USDA’s Rural Development agency in New Mexico.




In the weeks after NMA published its article “The Agency that Swallowed the Fly” (Herd on the Hill 4/8/02) it came to our attention that the author of this apt analogy was not the first person we’d heard it from. Actually it appeared first in Meat Processing magazine and was written by none other that Robert Hibbert, an attorney with McDermott, Will & Emery in Washington, DC. We’d like to extend our thanks for thinking well done.