NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
May 27, 2003
Canada confirmed last Tuesday morning that a 6-year old beef cow on a ranch in Northern Alberta, Canada was diagnosed as having bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). There was a delay between the cow’s slaughter on January 31 and testing because sample tissue from livestock that are condemned and therefore will not enter the food supply are the lowest priority for laboratory testing. The cow, which showed no signs of BSE infection, reportedly had pneumonia and was lighter in weight than normal, and consequently was condemned by the Canadian Food inspector as unfit to enter the food chain. The BSE-positive cow never entered the food supply, and none of its tissue entered the human food supply.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) hosted a teleconference Tuesday and Friday to answer questions. They repeatedly stated that the identification of this cow demonstrates that the system works, in that the cow did not enter the food system. In a statement the CFIA (http://www.inspection.gc.ca/) said “Information suggests that the risk to human health and the possibility of transmission to other Canadian cattle from this case are low.” In fact, by week’s end, CFIA reported that all other cows from the same herd had been slaughtered and were reported negative for BSE testing. Canada is using its “trace out” system to provide both forward and backward tracing information for the infected animal.
USDA temporarily suspended livestock and meat trade from Canada effective May 20, 2003 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time until further information is known. The U.S. will not accept any Canadian ruminants (ruminants are all species of four-stomach animals) or ruminant products until further notice. USDA is also dispatching a technical team of APHIS and FSIS personnel to Canada to assist in the investigation. “I [spoke] with Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief a short time ago about Canada’s investigation and feel that all appropriate measures are being taken in what appears to be an isolated case of bovine spongiform encephalophathy,” Secretary Veneman said in a statement on May 20, 2003.
APHIS and FSIS held joint teleconferences on Wednesday and Thursday. FSIS has issued guidance to District offices, to be disseminated through field offices, stipulating that all carcasses of known Canadian origin be retained, and slaughter of Canadian cattle cease until further notice. NMA was provided a letter from APHIS Administrator Bobby Acord and FSIS Administrator Dr. Garry McKee that informs the agencies’ employees that APHIS placed a prohibition on the importation of all live ruminants, ruminant meat and meat products, and other ruminant products from Canada effective May 20, 2003 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time. Products that passed into the U.S. prior to the time of the ban may move in commerce. All processed products with beef constituents are also banned, as well as processed proteins, ruminant blood and blood products, certain gelatin, fishmeal, and tallow. FSIS officials have also said that they are working cooperatively with sister-agency APHIS, and FSIS inspection program personnel will follow the APHIS prohibition.
There is a lot of unknown information. It was reaffirmed many times during the course of the initial CFIA teleconference that there is no known transmission between cows. It was also noted that the incubation period for BSE is anywhere between 2 and 8 years. The clinical signs of BSE can sometimes be very subtle in the early stages, so it is possible to have an animal that doesn’t exhibit classic signs of BSE as this animal didn’t. The most common method of transmission known is an animal consuming BSE-infected mammalian materials in feed (Canada, like the U.S., bans mammalian materials in ruminant feed). In the teleconference on Friday, it was noted that 1 in 10,000,000 cases of BSE are thought to be spontaneous occurrences.
CFIA relayed by telelconference on Friday that a total of 13 herds have been quarantined. Eight are in the province of Alberta, two in Saskatchewan, and three in British Columbia. Seven of the farms were quarantined because of traceback information, and three are from trace forward information. The remaining three were quarantined as a result of investigations of feed sources for the case cow. In determining the case cow’s origin, CFIA has identified two “streams,” leading the investigation to two separate farms.
Dr. Lisa Ferguson, senior staff scientist at APHIS in charge of the TSE program, said during the Thursday teleconference, “We believe our surveillance is done at a level that we would find a one in a million case in the U.S., if it was here, and that surveillance has only increased every year. Last year, we sampled about 20,000 animals, and that actually exceeds what we had established would be a level necessary to find a one in a million case.” APHIS uses a targeted rather than a random sampling program. Learn more about BSE on APHIS’ website: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/bse.html. NMA also has talking points on the Canadian BSE occurrence from Dr. Will Hueston and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota. Contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy.
“All we know so far is that low-carbohydrate diets are a potentially viable option that needs more testing,” said Dr. Gary Foster, Clinical Director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, in the report. He added, “It [the finding of the study] was very surprising. I went into this skeptical about the claims that the Atkins diet was safe, and now I’m more open-minded.” Dr. Foster and his colleagues who worked on this study have already begun a five-year examination of low-carbohydrate diets.
All Members Are Invited to Join Us For NMA’s 2003 Summer Conference!
AUGUST 20-23, 2003
GRAND GENEVA RESORT & SPA, LAKE GENEVA, WI
For more information, contact NMA at 510-763-1533 or [email protected]
NEW NMA RESOURCE
NMA has a new resource, “The Role of Microbiological Testing in Beef Safety Systems,” collaborated on by Russell Cross, Keith Belk, Gary Smith, Gina Bellinger, and Sharon Wood. Some of the topics covered in the resource include: if testing is effective, valid reasons to test, what organisms should be tested, and validation of interventions. NMA members contact Julie Ramsey at [email protected] for a copy.
NMA has available information on the purchases for Fiscal Year 2003. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a copy.
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 www.beef.org 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 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:
A LESSON TO BE LEARNED!
The concerns that flowed from last Tuesday’s announcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that a single cow from a beef breeding herd in Alberta, condemned at slaughter for pneumonia and emaciation on January 31, and which subsequently tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), have substantially impacted the North American meat industry. They provide an opportunity for our industry to examine how we handle a crisis.
First, we commend the CFIA and its ministerial and technical officials for providing credible, honest information about the circumstances. They have done this, and continue doing it, through teleconferences and through daily updates. NMA has relayed this information to its members, through FAX alerts and e-mail, but especially by encouraging its members to get the direct information. The CFIA website is located at: www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/disemala/bseesb/bseesbindexe.shtml.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman quickly issued a statement, after hearing from her Canadian counterparts, announcing USDA’s action to institute a ban on livestock and livestock products. Less clear, unfortunately, were instructions from FSIS officials, and the industry that was most impacted by the announcement learned about it by word of mouth, since original issuances were restricted to FSIS personnel. It took about a day to get this resolved.
NMA was pleased to learn that APHIS was having a teleconference on Thursday. Once again we tried to ensure that as many of NMA’s impacted members could dial in. We also received a copy of the memo on Thursday that FSIS Administrator Garry McKee and APHIS Administrator Bobby Acord jointly signed the day before addressed to the employees in their respective agencies. In retrospect, we would encourage them to also issue it directly to the impacted industry. The industry is its best cooperator, and keeping the industry directly informed is the best policy.
While media reports have been all over the lot, to say the least, the lead publications have, in our view, been as accurate as the information they received from the government authorities.
We’re pleased to provide information about a satellite teleconference scheduled for June 18 entitled, “Emerging Food Regulations,” sponsored by the Northwest Food Processors Association. The program for the teleconference includes information on bioterrorism preparedness, country of origin labeling, traceability, commitment-based security, and much more. Those interested in attending should contact NWFPA at 503-327-2200 for more information or visit the NWFPA website at http://www.nwfpa.org/.
UPCOMING NMA SEMINARS
May 28-29 - Beyond Basics -- College Station, TX
July (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 more information and registration materials.
PET FOOD RECALL
On Monday, May 26, 2003, a U.S. company asked customers to return dry dog food that may have come from the Canadian cow that tested positive for BSE, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Pet Pantry International of Carson City, NV sold the products in question, “Maintenance Diet” with a use by date of “17FEB04” and “Beef with Barley” with a use by date “05MAR04.” The suspect dog food was made by Champion Pet Food of Morinville, Alberta, between February 4 and March 12, 2003. FDA stated that there is no known risk to dogs and no evidence that dogs could transmit the disease to humans.
The Pet Pantry products were packed in 50-pound bags, distributed to franchises around the US and sold by home delivery only. There was no retail distribution. Pet Pantry will also use its sales records of the phone and e-mail orders for home delivery to contact consumers who purchased the suspect dog food. The voluntary return is a precaution to prevent discarded dog food from getting mixed with feed for cattle, goats or sheep. Consumers are asked not to destroy or discard the product themselves as the FDA is working with The Pet Pantry to ensure proper disposal. Contact The Pet Pantry at 800-381-7387 for more information on how to return the affected product for proper disposal.
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 Kiran Kernellu
May 27, 2003
The Associated Press (AP) reported today that the Supreme Court upheld the rights of state workers under a federal law guaranteeing time off to care for children or ailing relatives. State employees can sue in federal court to enforce their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, wrote Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on behalf of himself and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. Justice John Paul Stevens also concurred. Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas dissented.
This ruling upholds the scope of the 1993 law that grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family emergencies or the birth or adoption of children.
The Court concluded that Congress was within its rights to mandate that states give their own workers the same benefits that the law grants to private sector employees by a 6-3 vote in favor. “By creating an across-the-board, routine employment benefit for all eligible employees, Congress sought to ensure that family care leave would no longer be stigmatized as an inordinate drain on the workplace caused by female employees and that employers could not evade leave obligations simply by hiring men,” Rehnquist wrote in the majority opinion.
FOOD SAFETY LEGISLATION
Last Thursday, lawmakers in Washington introduced three food safety related bills. Two would amend performance standards in the Federal Meat Inspection Act and one would give the Secretary of Agriculture the ability to authorize mandatory recalls.
The legislation introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA-14) on the Senate and House side respectively are entitled “The Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction Act of 2003” (S.1103 and H.R.2203). According to the official title this bill would “clarify the authority of the secretary of Agriculture to prescribe performance standards for the reduction of pathogens in meat, meat products, poultry, and poultry products processed by establishments receiving inspection services and to enforce the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System requirements, sanitation requirements, and the performance standards.”
This legislation is very similar to a bill of the same title that Sen. Harkin introduced in March of 2002 that never made it out of agriculture committee hearings. Advocates of the bill believe that the Secretary of Agriculture should have the power to “shut down a plant” based on current and future performance standards. These same performance standards have recently been under attack in federal courts in cases such as Nebraska Beef v. Veneman and Supreme Beef v. USDA. Performance standards are simply an indicator that something else may be wrong with an establishment’s food safety system, but not that the establishment is producing adulterated food. If an establishment failed to meet these arbitrary standards, Sen. Harkin and Rep. Eshoo’s legislation would refuse to allow any meat or meat product produced by that establishment to be labeled as “inspected as passed”. The text of this legislation can be found on the Library of Congress website at http://thomas.loc.gov by entering H.R. 2203 in the search engine.
The “Unsafe Meat and Poultry Recall Act” (H.R. 2273) was introduced last week by Representative Thomas Udall (D-3-NM). According to the official title this bill would “amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to order the recall of meat and poultry that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise unsafe.” If a meat product is found to be adulterated or misbranded, the providing establishment is expected to voluntarily, “cease distribution of the meat product,” provide notification to those the product has been distributed to, recall the product, and in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, provide notice to consumers to whom the product is, or may have been distributed too. If an establishment refuses to comply within the “time and in the manner prescribed by the Secretary” this legislation then gives the Secretary the ability to order a mandatory recall before an on-the-record hearing can be held. If in that hearing it is determined that mandatory action was unnecessary the mandatory action will be dropped. The text of this legislation can be found on the Library of Congress website at http://thomas.loc.gov by entering H.R.2273 in the search engine. For more information about these bills please contact Shawna Thomas at [email protected].
The Department of Homeland Security raised the national threat level to High risk of terrorist attack or Level Orange on Tuesday, May 20, 2003. The increased security level signals that foreign animal disease (FAD) surveillance should be increased nationwide. Particular attention should be directed at livestock and poultry concentration points. Contact USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services, Emergency Programs at 301-734-8073, 800-940-6524, or [email protected] for more information.
STREAMLINING PRIOR NOTICE
FDA and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today that the agencies will streamline the implementation of the prior notice requirements of the Bioterrorism Act by allowing food importers to provide required information on food imports to both agencies using an integrated process. Read more about this topic at: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2003/NEW00911.html
For the past several years National Meat Association’s regulatory staff has participated in the Small Business Regulatory Fairness roundtable meetings to present testimony on regulatory issues affecting small businesses in the Federal compliance and enforcement environment. The testimony presented at the roundtable meetings is of great importance, as it may become part of the National Ombudsman Report to Congress.
The roundtable meetings provide small businesses, in accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, a forum for the presentation, review and settlement of complaints stemming from a Federal compliance or enforcement action. Mr. Michael Barrera, National Ombudsman, Small Business Administration (SBA), addressed NMA’s Board of Directors and encouraged members to participate in the process by providing both negative and positive experiences related to their interactions with Federal Regulatory Agencies.
In conjunction with this process a SBA representative requested NMA to contact its members for documented experiences of compliance and regulatory actions related to the development and implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The NMA regulatory staff would treat all related documentation received as privileged and confidential and compile a report void of specific individuals, locations, or any other such information that would compromise the identity of the participants providing information.
Our sources indicate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is prepared to present a report to Congress which claims that all problems associated with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system have been or are currently being addressed. In truth, FSIS has not adequately addressed a number of HACCP related inadequacies, such as mandated regulatory requirements being incompatible with HACCP principles, unqualified or improperly trained inspection field staff, and the inconsistent and inequitable application of regulatory standards which differ from one District to the next.
Your participation in this process is immensely important in order to address an abusive system that appears to be more concerned with portraying itself to the public as the victim that is unable to address industry-related food safety issues because it supposedly lacks the necessary regulatory authority. Proponents of this theme lobby for criminal and monetary penalties and do a disservice to the consumers by undermining the confidence in an industry that embraces scientific food safety principles in order to produce the safest food products in the world.
Please forward you experiences to the NMA regulatory staff. Documentation should be organized chronologically with a brief explanation of circumstances, regulatory requirements alleged to be involved, whether or not down time or the loss of product was incurred, and the current status of the incident.
In addition to providing the information to SBA, Shawna Thomas, NMA Government Relations Liaison, can interact directly on a member’s behalf with their congressional representative, if so directed. Please contact Ken Mastracchio at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns. Please send your comments to Shawna Thomas, FAX 202-234-3583, e-mail [email protected] or Ken Mastracchio, FAX 510-763-6186, e-mail [email protected] by COB May 30, 2003. Your participation is needed and will be greatly appreciated.
NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM
On Thursday, May 22, 2003 the Agricultural Marketing Service published a proposed rule entitled “National Organic Program; Proposed Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances” in the Federal Register. This proposed rule would amend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) to reflect recommendations submitted to the Secretary by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from November 15, 2000 through September 17, 2002, which entail adding five substances, along with any restrictive annotations, to the National List and revising the annotation of one substance. Visit the proposed rule at: