NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Jeremy Russell
May 13, 2002
The first Global HACCP Conference, sponsored by the International HACCP Alliance, will be held on Thursday and Friday this week in Chicago, IL. It's not too late to attend! Check the Alliance's website (http://haccpalliance.org/) for registration information, or even call NMA.
NMA is pleased to be a sponsor of the Conference, just as it was a founding charter member of the Alliance in 1994. The Alliance is supported both nationally and internationally by industry organizations and is the cornerstone of HACCP implementation in the meat and poultry industry in the United States. It has grown in stature and is the recognized authority for accredited training. It has also worked with USDA under contract to develop the generic HACCP models and to train USDA Consumer Safety Officers. The Alliance is now developing materials that its member organizations will be able to disseminate to the industry to further expand the knowledge of HACCP for line workers. Leading government and industry experts will speak about HACCP and how it is being used to build confidence in the food supply.
USDA’s meeting in Washington May 6-7, 2002, “Pathogen Reduction: A Scientific Dialogue,” was valuable in many respects, although all speaker participants were either government or academic scientists. The two-day program was divided into four panels, and the four discussion subjects for them were: Panel I: Introduction of Hazards, Farm to Table; Panel 2: Impacts of HACCP Systems and Approaches, Including Prerequisite and Good manufacturing Programs; Panel 3: Performance Standards & Microbial Testing; and Panel 4: Intervention Strategies, Including Verification of Effectiveness. Panel chairs were Mike Doyle, Susan Sumner, Gary Acuff and Jim Dickson respectively. There was adequate opportunity for the audience to asks questions, although attendees of such public forums are often reluctant to raise questions, even anonymously in writing!
One of the main topics of concern was measuring levels of foodborne illness. NMA in its formal comments dated July 5, 1995 noted that it would be difficult to measure improvements in pathogen reduction because there is no formal reportable data collection on foodborne illness. NMA also expressed concerns that foodborne diseases associated with the ingestion of raw foods of animal origin are most often caused by improper handling and preparation by the end user, and USDA’s proposal did not address that risk. (For more in this topic see “Foodborne Illness: Putting it into Perspective” on page 4.)
USDA anticipated that a full transcript of the proceedings will become available to interested persons. We are providing in the list of documents that were available at the meeting. Others should also be available, as is the program, on the USDA website. NMA will provide copies on request by mail.
Introduction of Hazards, Farm to Table, Michael Doyle
Introduction of Hazards, Gary Acuff
Preparation, Consumption, and the chain of transmission, Robert Tauxe
HACCP Experiences Worldwide, Alejandro Castillo
Data Needed to Measure HACCP Impacts on Public Health
History of Microbial Testing, Gary Acuff
Performance Standards & Statistical Sampling, Loren Lange
Performance Standards & the Economics of Compliance & Innovation, Elise Golan
Microbial Testing for Control Verification, Robert L. Buchanan
Indicators/Surrogates vs. Pathogens, Frank Busta
Costs & Benefits of Adopting Food Safety Interventions, Michael Ollinger
NMA hosted May 7 a teleconference covering new employer guidelines and legal requirements. John Linker, from the labor law firm Alaniz and Schraeder, spoke on the topic of the legal rights of undocumented workers. In March, he said, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that undocumented workers were ineligible to sue for back pay. Ironically this decision will likely have the consequence of causing more costs for employers, he opined, because it has given rise to hostility in executive branch agencies such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). OSHA and others seem to feel that the loss of back pay penalties is a significant blow to their enforcement abilities and will likely become more vigilant in using the other protections and penalties which still exist to protect undocumented workers.
Next Alaniz and Schraeder lawyer David Barren spoke about the new rules and requirements regarding the use of fraudulent social security numbers. Policies against such social security abuse, however difficult to detect, must be enforced by the employers. In the event, he said, that you receive a letter from Social Security saying that numbers on your employees don’t match names it is your responsibility to double-check the records and notify the employee in writing (English and Spanish if necessary), giving them a window of time to respond, e.g. 60 days. “What you cannot do is ignore this letter,” said Barren. When the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) pays a visit, they may hold you accountable.
Barbara Phillips of the Phillips Team then came on to explain why OSHA has become so concerned about the Hispanic population. Hispanics are disproportionately employed in dangerous industries, as is illustrated by the fact that, although they represent only about 8% of the workforce, Hispanic workers suffer 13.8% of the fatalities. Furthermore, there was an 11.6% increase in workplace injuries leading to fatalities among Hispanics from 1999 to 2000. According to OSHA, construction is considered the most dangerous workplace, but this is followed by meat and poultry. The Agency is currently gathering statistics and preparing to develop targets for enforcement action.
Following up on these concerns, John Barbieri from State Compensation Insurance Fund reminded the attendees that they must not put production before safety. Not only is safety the best way to run a business, but any monetary benefit of increased production would eventually be eliminated by increased workers’ compensation costs. He recommended communication and data collection as a key to controlling safety in the workforce.
It was revealed during the teleconference that there has also been a change in the law relating to background checks. Employers are held accountable for negligent hiring if background checks are not performed, but the consent of prospective employees must now be obtained. NMA recommends authorization and notice; a notification clause for your applications can be obtained from the NMA office.
Texas A&M University (TAMU) Graduate Teaching/Research Assistant Dave McKenna explained in a TAMU Department of Animal Science Meat Science Section Technical Topics publication the causes of meat color change. These are important because, as he noted, “color is the primary factor influencing the fresh meat purchasing decisions of consumers.”
Basically, color is determined by oxygen or oxidation. The oxidative state of myoglobin, the main muscle protein responsible for color, dictates the expressed color of fresh meat. There are three states of myoglobin. The first, oxymyoglobin, is the most desirable; the myglobin is flush with oxygen and the meat is brightly colored. The second, deoxymyglobin, occurs in vacuum-packaged meat when the myoglobin is bound to water (or has the oxygen removed) and the meat develops a purplish color. The final, metmyglobin, results from oxidation of the iron in the myglobin and the meat, like rust, develops a brownish color.
Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, from fluorescents, temperature fluctuations and bacterial growth all contribute to metmyglobin. The use of antioxidants, such as feeding Vitamin E, can assist in warding off metmyglobin.
Livestock stress conditions are another factor in meat color. According to McKenna, “Long-term stress to animals prior to slaughter results in a reduced post-mortem pH decline and consequently a higher final pH.” This makes for a dark appearance and less oxymyoglobin. “Short-term stress, immediately prior to slaughter, results in an accelerated postmortem pH decline and consequently denaturation of some muscle proteins,” writes McKenna. “Denatured proteins cannot bind water effectively resulting in the loss of cellular contents including myoglobin.”
Practically, this means that humane slaughter and healthy feed will effect results in high quality meat color. Proper handling and display can assure that the meat color stays high quality for as long as possible.
A pig farmer facing 16 criminal charges related to his farming practices and thought to be the source of the horrific outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) that swept Britain last year appeared in court last week. The first case of FMD in Britain has allegedly been traced to Burnside Farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northern England, which is operated by this very pig farmer, Robert Waugh. Officials believe that Waugh fed the pigs unprocessed swill. However, Waugh is not charged with starting the outbreak, not exactly. “There is no charge either made against Mr. Waugh, nor available to be made, which can make such an allegation,” prosecutor Paddy Cosgrove told the Associated Press. Furthermore, whether he actually started the devastation is irrelevant to the charges leveled against him: five counts of failing to notify officials of FMD on his farm, four of cruelty to animals, one of taking unprocessed catering waste onto his farm, one of feeding said waste to his pigs, four of failing to dispose of animal byproducts, and one of failing to record the movement of pigs. Similar charges have been put on hold against his brother, who helped run the farm, due to ill health. The FMD outbreak ultimately infected 2,030 farms and led to the culling of more than 4 million animals, while shutting down British meat and livestock exports over wide areas of the country and costing taxpayers over $2 billion.
When the USDA proposed major changes to the meat and poultry regulatory program in February 1995, a major supporting cornerstone was data on the incidence of foodborne illness in the United States set forth in scientific papers authored substantially by epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. Unfortunately, in 1996, CDC stopped providing a highly informative annual “outbreak analysis” of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. But at the same time, several government agencies handling food worked collaboratively with CDC to set up various “sentinel sites” in the FoodNet program to conduct active surveillance for seven bacterial and two parasitic foodborne diseases within a defined population (20.5 million) around these sites. Recent papers by government epidemiologists extrapolate this data, include some other data sources, and are reporting that foodborne disease illnesses in the United States is estimated to be 76 million cases, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths annually. The authors continue to claim that many cases do not turn up in reportable data. (Food Related Illness and Death in the United States, Mead, et al …) Major symptoms of foodborne illness, such as diarrhea and vomiting, may also indicate many other types of illness.
At last week’s scientific meeting sponsored by USDA in Washington, NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow once again expressed NMA’s concern at the numbers of estimated illness, hospitalization and mortality data, and in a follow-up private discussion with Dr. Robert Tauxe from the CDC, Rosemary learned that the lack of outbreak reports since the mid-1990s was the result of funding restrictions. However, Dr. Tauxe said that funds had now become available and actual information for the missing years should become available. NMA continues to question the huge gulf between the CDC estimates and the known outbreak data for specific pathogens and parasites.
PERFORMANCE VS. PROCESS
Elise Golan from the USDA’s Economic Research suggested in her presentation during USDA science conference that performance standards are less intrusive than process standards in a plant. In questioning, she indicated strong support of the end meat/poultry product testing, which he likens to clean air, water and fuel transmission standards.
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
May 13, 2002
FARM BILL PASSES
The President signed the Farm Bill this morning. After so many months of vitriolic debate the fact of the Farm Bill’s passage almost seems anticlimactic. However, it is now a reality. Not that it’s been met with universal approval. In fact, a response from countries angered by U.S. subsidies seems altogether likely through the World Trade Organization (WTO). And, according to the San Francisco Chronicle at least, that response is altogether deserved. The Chron reported last week that the Farm Bill was likely to hurt millions of the world’s poor by increasing spending for U.S. agricultural support by 80%. “We stick up for our farmers,” responds Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). “We work out what we feel is best for our producers and our farms, not what’s best for Germany or France or Brazil or Chine.” Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) disagreed, “It’s not an American Farm Bill. It’s a Farm Bill for five commodities in America.” Whatever the actual outcome of the subsidies, they will certainly be a factor in future trade talks.
Country-of-Origin Labeling will be made a reality by the just passed Farm Bill. And, after two years of voluntary labeling that begin on September 30, it will become a mandatory program in 2004. The effects of such labeling could include higher prices at retail, increased competition from foreign brands, confusion at the retail case and lower prices for U.S. cow-calf producers. Proponents of the labeling believe that consumers are likely to pick U.S. Beef over other countries’ product. If this is truly the case, one is forced to wonder, why there are zero users for the “U.S. Beef” certification program currently administered by USDA. (For an excellent and expansive report on country-of-origin labeling see today’s Cattle Buyers Weekly.)
MAY 19 D-DAY FOR FSIS REALIGNMENT
Starting on May 19, FSIS is condensing the Agency's 17 District Offices into 15. First it will begin realignment of the Pickerington, Ohio, District Office to a satellite office reporting to the Chicago District. Then, on June 2, the responsibility for FSIS program operations in the State of New Jersey will be assigned to the Philadelphia District Office, and the Salem, Oregon, District Office will be realigned as a satellite office of the Boulder, Colorado, District Office. The Agency says that the realignments will not result in any office closings, employee layoffs, or relocations.
HOWARD BAUMAN AWARD INAUGURATED
The first Howard E. Bauman Award for food safety was awarded at the FSIS Pathogen Reduction: A Scientific Dialogue symposium held May 6 & 7 in Washington, DC (see Lean Trimmings page 1). The award was given posthumously to Dr. Bauman and was accepted by his daughters, Victoria Zobel and Kay Rose.
FSIS will be hosting a series of Food Safety Systems Correlation (FSSC) meetings this June and recommends that personnel responsible for monitoring and implementing SSOP and HACCP programs attend. The full schedule is in the chart below. All meetings will be held from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. If you have any questions or need a registration form please contact Frank Gillis at (510) 337-5000 Ext. 226, Necolia Chambers at (510) 337-5000 Ext. 221 or Monica Wilder at (510) 337-5000 Ext. 227.
Stanislaus Agricultural Center
3800 Cornucopia Way, Suite A
Modesto, CA 95358
795 Willow Rd. Room C200
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650 493 5000
San Joaquin College of Law, Room 213
901 5th Street
Clovis, CA 93612
(559) 323 2100
Oakland Federal Building
1301 Clay Street
North Tower Auditorium 3rd floor
(510) 628 0665
Davis Federal Building
430 G Street
(530) 792 5570
TEXAS TB STATUS REVISION
Texas livestock health officials are alerting cattle producers, veterinarians and livestock markets that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will strip Texas of its “Free” status for cattle tuberculosis (TB) eradication on or around June 1. The TB status downgrade will mean that the 150,000 or more breeding cattle hauled out of Texas each year must have a negative tuberculosis skin test prior to being moved. The USDA has placed a moratorium on additional restrictions until at least January 2003, when the state's feeder cattle must be identified with official ear tags before being transported out of state.
“The downgrade in TB status comes as a result of the diagnosis and subsequent depopulation of two TB-infected cattle herds during 2001,” explained Dr. Linda Logan, Texas’ state veterinarian and executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock health regulatory agency. “Both infected herds were detected by slaughter plant inspectors, who found carcasses with internal lesions indicative of TB.”
MAN CONVICTED IN MEAT REPACKAGING SCHEME
Anyone needing a reminder that the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) is a law with teeth need only read Bryan Salvage’s report in Meatingplace.com about a Massachusetts Man convicted in federal court in connection with a meat repackaging scheme that resulted in the sale of more than $3.3 million in misbranded product over four years. Convicted of two counts of filing false tax returns and one count of conspiracy, Jose Yuritta was indicted in January along with six others against whom charges are still pending. The scheme apparently included under the table payments for misbranding meat as higher quality product. Yuritta faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
NACMCF SEEKS NOMINATIONS
USDA is seeking nominations for the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF). Scientists with expertise in epidemiology, food technology, microbiology, risk assessment, infectious disease and biostatistics are sought and nominations will be accepted until June 7.