NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Jeremy Russell and Kiran Kernellu
June 10, 2002
DRAFT NOTICE ON Salmonella TESTING
FSIS released last week a Draft Notice entitled “Actions to be Taken in Establishments Subject to Salmonella Testing” as a part of its response to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in the Supreme Beef v. USDA. The Notice, as it currently appears, has application to slaughterers subject to a Salmonella performance standard as well as grinders whose products are being tested for Salmonella.
In the first part of the Draft Notice, FSIS is instructing its field personnel to ensure they are effectively verifying the establishment's SSOP program, as well as looking for trends which may show a relationship between Salmonella findings and the establishment's E. coli test results or food safety control programs. If problems are noted, inspection personnel may take appropriate regulatory action.
In the second part of the Draft, FSIS describes the procedures to be followed in the event of a Salmonella set failure. Of special interest is the procedure following a third set failure (which apply to grinders). In these cases, FSIS may initiate an IDV review of the grinder's suppliers. Moreover, it would appear, FSIS may seek to suspend (or actually withdraw) inspection following the third set failure, alleging that the establishment's HACCP plan is inadequate in that the establishment has failed to control food safety hazards.
NMA hopes that a request for a meeting with FSIS officials to discuss how micro testing of raw materials can best work in HACCP will be accommodated in June. For complete details and a copy of the draft notice, send a self-addressed, stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West and be sure to include the newsletter date with your request.
PROPOSED HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICE MAY ABSORB APHIS
As part of the President’s proposal to create a permanent Department of Homeland Security, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would be absorbed to perform Border and Transportation Security and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures. According to a report in the National Chicken Council’s Washington Report, APHIS would bring more than 8,000 employees and funding of more than $1.1 billion to the new Department. The White House said that its plan would “unify our defenses against agricultural terrorism—the malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause disease in the agricultural sector” and would work with USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that “rigorous inspection and quality assurance programs protect the food supply from farm to fork.”
APHIS currently handles a host of responsibilities in USDA relating to animal disease, control of invasive species, and border control, among others. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman noted in relation to Bush’s proposal that “in this new age of threats, it is critical that we enhance the protection of America’s food and agriculture supply.”
Goats have recently become one of the fastest growing U.S. agricultural properties in the nation, reported the Wall Street Journal on June 4th (see the April 22, 2002 issue of Lean Trimmings for more information) Many state agencies encourage goat breeding as a viable alternative for small farmers in trouble. Start-up costs are only about $4,000, a third the start-up cost of raising cattle.
There is a large existing domestic market for goat – our immigrant population. For instance, Jamaicans and Indians use goat meat for curry. Arabs eat goat meat in shish kabobs. And, northern Mexicans cook goat meat over a spit fire and then tear up the meat for tacos. It’s no surprise that the amount of goat imported into the U.S. has more than quadrupled in the past decade. According to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, in 1990 three million pounds of goat meat were imported. In 2001, this figure leaped to 12.6 million. The goat-slaughter rate at USDA-inspected facilities more than doubled to 560,000 goats during the same time period. The actual number of goats slaughtered is much higher, as slaughters at farms and state-inspected facilities weren’t included in the data. All in all, this translates to a solid market demand. A 25-acre farm can earn $6,000 annually on goats. Adding goats to the crop is certainly good “food for thought.”
Food Insight notes two emerging solutions to microbiological threats to food safety in its latest issue. It has recently been discovered that the simultaneous use of lactate salts (sodium or potassium lactate) and sodium diacetate can greatly reduce the potential for growth of microorganisms such as Listeria. The article also notes that activated lactoferrin is highly combative towards Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, and Staphylococcus.
Though not a new solution, food irradiation is useful in reducing the number of bacteria in food. Approved for use in the U.S. in 1963, irradiation has been effective on many fruits, vegetables, grain products and meats.
Colorado Beef Council (CBC) announced a new website in its June newsletter. Cowsnus.com seeks to combat the untruths on the Internet about how cows are treated by the people who raise them. The website is the brainchild of thirteen-year-old Marci Hardesty of Eaton, CO, who felt compelled to depict the realities of farm and ranch life from a youth perspective. The site, which debuted on National Ag Day, March 20, 2002, profiles a different youth each month. The site plans to offer further information. NMAonline.org offers a link to this site.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has surfaced for the first time in Israel. The Israeli-born cow from Golan Heights at Ortal Kibbutz was likely infected by poultry fish meal from Europe, according to the Los Angeles Times. (Times reporter Emily Green, who lived in Britain during its BSE crisis, tells us that, until 1996, meat-and-bone meal was a legal minor constituent of fish meal, a slow but persistent source of “born after the ban” animals.) The two offspring of the cow and the three others in the herd have been quarantined. The Israeli agricultural ministry is now testing the brains of all slaughtered cattle over 30 months of age. The Israeli government has mandated that the internal organs of cows over the age of one be destroyed and veterinarians have imposed a ban on the slaughter of all cattle over 30 months of age. Officials believe there is little risk of the disease spreading and are confident that Israel’s meat and milk are free of BSE contagion. They say they are certain that no infected meat reached the market. (BSE was last visited in the May 6, 2002 issue of Lean Trimmings.)
Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii, a single-celled parasite, may infect over 60 million people in the U.S., according to CDC. Although T. gondii is very harmful to developing fetuses, people with AIDS, and others with weakened immune systems, most infected individuals don’t often have symptoms. The parasite is acquired by ingestion through eating or handling raw, undercooked, or inadequately cured meat, including pork, lamb and venison. T. gondii can also infect domestic and wild animals and has close relatives that belong to the genera Neospora, Hammondia, Besnoitia and Sarcosystis, which affect domestic animals and primates. Research by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is ongoing into the genetics of T. gondii and related parasites, according to a report in the May 2002 Agricultural Research.
A recent study conducted by the California Dried Plum Board showed that the addition of dried plum mixtures to uncooked processed meats can stifle the growth of foodborne pathogens appreciably. Mixtures such as dried plum puree, dried plum juice concentrate and dried plum powder, to name just a few, were added to ground beef, resulting in a decrease in the flora growth of S. typhimurium, L. monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, Y. enterocolitica, and S. aureus. It was also found that dried plums are a source of anti-microbials and antioxidants, in addition to stimulating moisture retention. This recent study supports research findings from both Kansas State and Texas A&M universities. (For more information on dried plum research see last week’s issue of Lean Trimmings.)
The Iowa Quality Beef Supply Network LLC and NMA member American Foods Group will form a joint venture, IQBSN, at the Iowa Quality Beef plant in Tama, Iowa. Cattle Buyers Weekly reports IQBSN’s “goal is to have the plant up and running by September.” Meatnews.com reports American Foods owner and CEO Carl Kuehne said, “[IQBSN] is an opportunity to prevent the adversarial relationship which historically has occurred between producers and meat packers.”
The National Center for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST) plans to submit its first filing for low-acid high pressure processed food within a year. This filing would ease the commercial development of high pressure processing for low-acid foods. High pressure, which dissipates when the pressure is lifted, causes significant heat in food, but spares it the destructive effects of slow heating and cooling.
NEW NMA COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
NMA welcomes its new Communications Manager, Kiran Kernellu. Kiran comes to NMA from CSU, Sacramento, where she majored in Journalism. She has a background in Public Relations and government communications. Kiran will be taking over for Director of Communications, Jeremy Russell, who will be leaving the Association in August.
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 and Kiran Kernellu
June 10, 2002
The USDA released new HACCP Inspection Models Project (HIMP) data on June 5, 2002. RTI International (RTI), a not-for-profit research organization, managed and conducted baseline and models redesign data collection, analyzed data and reported findings. RTI compiled data from 16 plants for 7 categories. It was noted that improvements were shown in 5 of the 7 categories, including the 2 that measure the safety of the product. FSIS conducted its own analysis and presented its findings at the meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI).
According to Food Chemical News Daily, the data “is far less flattering than earlier pronouncements about the program’s success indicated.” However, Reuters says that the “study should help bolster the Bush administration’s efforts to expand the controversial inspection program to cover all 350 eligible meat-slaughtering plants.” RTI data showed that 11 of the 16 plants had prevalence rates below 10% for Salmonella, less than half the performance standard required. However, USDA’s own data showed that half the plants had higher levels of Salmonella under HIMP than under traditional inspection.
An interim rule effective June 3, 2002 amended the bovine tuberculosis (TB) regulations regarding State and zone classification. It removed Texas’ split-state status, classifying the state as modified accredited advanced for TB. The interim rule was a response to prevent the spread of the disease. Two TB-infected cattle herds were found in the state in less than two years.
A herd of 3,000 dairy cattle has been quarantined in Tulare County, CA after a federal meat inspector found traces of TB. 56 cows were killed, 33 more will be killed to halt infection. Five weeks ago an inspector noticed suspicious lesions on beef in a USDA meat packing plant, according to Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food & Agriculture. As reported in the Oakland Tribune, testing confirmed TB and the cow was traced to the dairy in Tulare.
AUSTRALIA SEEKS INCREASED BEEF IMPORT QUOTA
DOW Jones Business News reported that Australia seeks a 35,000 metric ton increase on the U.S. quota on beef imports, which is currently at 378,214 metric tons. Last December Australian exporters reached the quota, and it’s expected this will be the case this October. More market access flexibility was also requested, specifically a 26% reduction in the tariff on over-quota beef. Though the U.S. is Australia’s biggest beef market, “in the short term, [these requests] certainly [look] difficult,” said Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile.
DISRUPTIONS IN CHINA TRADE
Delays in obtaining permits have caused delays of more than 30 days for U.S. companies exporting beef, pork, and poultry to China. According to Export Online, recent reports state that permit issuance has stopped completely. Companies experiencing such problems should contact USMEF Coordinator Ann Spaeth at (303) 623-6328.
INTERIM FINAL RULE ON LAMB PROMOTION
The Lamb Promotion, Research And Information Order, published in the Federal Register on June 7, 2002, established a national and industry–funded lamb promotion, research and information program pursuant to the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. This interim final rule, effective July 1, 2002, will implement the order’s provisions concerning the collection and remittance of assessments, procedures for obtaining a refund, reporting, and books and records. Written comments, due August 6, 2002, are requested on a new form of certification of exempt transactions.
A Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2002, revokes the 66 tolerances on methyl and ethyl parathion, effective September 3, 2002. These regulatory actions are part of the reregistration program under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and tolerance reassessment requirements of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). EPA is required to reassess 66% of the tolerances, or 6,400 tolerances by August 2002.
Europeans eat more pork products per year than anybody else on earth (about 95.5 pounds per person), according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. A British supermarket chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Asda, has begun slicing and packaging Parma ham, which is derived from pigs who have eaten the milky residue of parmigiano cheese before slaughter, without permission from Parma’s consortium of ham makers. Asda is eating away at Parma’s control of production and profit. Parma butchers believe it’s solely their right to sell Parma ham. The pigs used for Parma hams originate from Yorkshire, in Britain.
Furthermore, a regional coalition of local ham, pasta and cheese makers are attempting to persuade the European Union (EU) to choose Parma as the home to a new food safety authority. Helsinki is the favorite. “The Finns don’t even know what prosciutto is,” said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was able to temporarily block the Finnish bid last year. The Finns believe they deserve an EU agency because it is one of only two member countries without one. Heads of state have supported Finland, forcing Berlusconi to use his veto to block.
RUSSIAN POULTRY BAN IMPACTS SMITHFIELD
A month-long ban on poultry imports by Russia, which ended on April 15, has negatively impacted Smithfield Food’s bottom line. The U.S. pork giant said that its fourth quarter results were hurt by poultry diverted into the U.S. markets. Quarterly profit was cut by more than half in a June 5 release.
As well as problems stemming from the chicken glut, operating earnings in Smithfield’s hob production group fell to $17.2 million from $66.4 million a year earlier, hurt by a 17% drop in live hog prices. The company’s beef processing division was marginally profitable on sales of $557.3 million.
The Russian poultry ban is said to have hurt prices for all meats. Russia, which bought about 1 million metric tons of U.S. poultry last year according to Reuters, said it was instituting the ban out of concern over Salmonella levels and antibiotics in feed.