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

June 16, 2003




The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released information, current as of June 11, 2003, regarding its investigation of a single case of BSE. CFIA began with 18 quarantines and 1,700 cattle in two lines of inquiry, trace forwards and the feed investigation. The Agency depopulated cattle from all 18 of those farms in the two lines of inquiry and submitted over 1,500 samples to the laboratory. Currently, six premises remain under quarantine in Alberta. All herds most likely to have the highest risk of BSE have been examined, with no additional cases found.


Ulrich Kihm, a member of the international review team, (see last week’s edition of Lean Trimmings for more information) praised the management of the Canadian investigation. “I’ve never seen such a comprehensive investigation done in such a short time,” he said in a Food Chemical News (FCN) report today. “It’s very, very positive.” Kihm also said he had no doubt Canadian beef was safe for export. The international group will likely submit its final report circa June 20.


Kihm also said he wouldn’t be surprised if a few more cases of BSE were found in North America but he doubted it would ever be as widespread as in Europe. As stated during last Monday’s CFIA teleconference, U.S. officials await a full report from CFIA on its investigation and an evaluation of the investigation from the international review team before revisiting the ban on Canadian ruminants. “We want to see all the relevant information before we consider lifting our restrictions,” Ron Dehaven, deputy administrator of veterinary services with USDA, said in the FCN report.


Canadian officials will now evaluate possible changes to livestock feeding and inspection. CFIA and Health Canada are still reviewing whether animal protein should be allowed in livestock feed, whether sick and downer animals should be accepted at slaughterhouses and whether to merge the federal and provincial meat inspection systems.




Reuters reported last Friday that Canadian farm ministers are considering both direct financial aid and loan guarantees to help the beef industry in its struggle with mad cow disease. They hope to come up with a relief plan by the middle of this week. Federal Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief reportedly said that they had not worked out a pricetag for the program, or the source of the funding, but are aware of the need to move swiftly to help the industry with the continued loss of millions of dollars daily. Ottawa and the provincial governments will look at the C$400 million ($300 million) direct aid package proposed last week, as well as forgivable loan guarantees, according to the report. In a FCN report today, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the federal government will see how much it can afford.




Cattle Buyers Weekly (CBW) reported that South Korea agreed to accept U.S. beef products without any added certification, pending technical discussions with the U.S. government, rescinding its June 9 deadline for U.S. beef exports to be certified for U.S. origin. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Export Newsline reported today that Japan has sent a proposal to APHIS suggesting that exports from the U.S. include born, raised, and slaughtered information showing origin from the U.S. or another BSE-free nation. Despite continuing talks, Japanese authorities have reportedly already sent new regulations to their quarantine officials and other export partners based on that proposal. Both nations have expressed concern about Canadian feeder cattle in the U.S. and what will happen once U.S. and Canadian cattle trade resumes. The real danger is that the Korean and Japanese governments are working to resolve the issue at one level; but politicians in both countries may get impatient and act to de-list the U.S., said USMEF president and CEO Phil Sang in the CBW report.


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Last Friday a New York Times article relayed that University of Nebraska researchers are developing an additive for cattle feed to lower the methane levels in bovine breath. Reportedly, the breath of cattle harms Earth’s ozone layer and contributes to global warming. According to the report, the breathing of cattle accounts for nearly 20 percent of the methane gas released into the atmosphere.

The average bovine is accountable for 100 to 150 gallons of methane gas each day. Methane, which remains in the atmosphere for about 10 to 12 years, is produced in the rumen of cattle, travels through its bloodstream and exits through the lungs, said Ken Olson, a range livestock nutritionist at Utah State University, in the report. Olson conducted a six-year study which found that better range management practices, such as providing higher quality forage, could make a small difference in the amount of methane released by cattle. In 2000, according to the report, University of Nebraska biochemistry professor Stephen Ragsdale and colleagues James Takacs and Jess Miner had the idea of reducing methane by blocking enzymes in cattle rumen that are necessary to produce it.

Researchers have tested over 200 compounds in the last 18 months in an attempt to find the right formula that blocks the methane but doesn’t harm the constructive microbes in the cattle rumen. Ten have worked well enough to be tested on rumen fluid extracted from a steer. “Of those, about 20 to 30 percent are indeed doing what we expect them to do,” said Ragsdale in the report. “We’re honing in on what would be perfect.”

The researchers’ goal is to reduce methane emissions by about 4 percent, which would reportedly help restore some equilibrium to the planet’s normal method of getting rid of methane from its atmosphere.

Another boon to cutting methane production in cattle is that it may reduce the amount of feed the animals require. Researchers reportedly believe that up to 16 percent of the feed given to cattle is wasted because it goes to produce methane. If methane production drops, producers would have to feed their cattle less because more of the animal’s energy is going to its own production of proteins, amino acids and fat, rather than the methane that has no utility for the animal.



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!


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:




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.




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.



AUGUST 20-23, 2003



For more information, contact NMA at 510-763-1533 or [email protected]


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National Meat Association will host its annual summer conference this year at the beautiful Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva, WI.  This annual conference provides members the opportunity to get the latest updates on industry issues first hand.  Top USDA officials, academia, CEOs, plant managers, owners of meat companies and NMA officers & staff will come together to exchange thoughts and concerns related exclusively to the meat industry and your business.


Registration materials are forthcoming. The preliminary schedule is as follows:


Thursday - August 21, 2003

8:00am- 1:00pm           Golf Tournament 

2:00pm -5:00pm          Registration 

2:30pm - 4:45pm         Strategic Planning 

5:00pm - 6:15pm         Executive Committee 

6:30pm -8:00pm          PAC Reception  


FRIDAY - August 22, 2003

6:45am - 8:00am          Continental Breakfast 

7:15am - 3:00pm          Registration 

7:30am - 9:00am          Food Safety/Inspection  

9:15am - 11:15am        Industry Meeting 

9:30am - 3:30pm          Spouse Tour 

11:30am - 1:00pm        Lunch/Guest Speaker 

1:15pm - 3:00pm         POLICY COMMITTEES


                                    Small Stock 

                                    Processed Meat  

3:00pm - 6:00pm         FREE TIME

6:00pm - 9:00pm         Dinner 


SATURDAY - August 23, 2003

6:45am - 8:00am          Continental Breakfast 

7:00am - 12:00pm        Registration  

7:15am - 8:45am          Workplace Issues  

9:00am - 10:30am        ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEES


                                    Associate Advisory  


10:45am - 12:30pm      Board Meeting 

12:45pm 1:15pm          “Lite-Lunch” 

1:30pm - 5:30pm         FREE TIME

5:30pm - 8:00pm         Dinner Cruise 


Enjoy this four-diamond resort nestled among 1,300 acres of rolling hills and beautiful Wisconsin countryside overlooking the resort’s private lakes.  Rich history and natural beauty have made it a premier vacation destination. It offers 355 luxury guest rooms, two 18-hole PGA championship golf courses, an on-site airport, a full-service spa and sports center and for the young and young-at-heart there is the Moose Mountain Falls Waterpark.  The Resort is located 65 miles from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and 45 miles form Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport.



Lake Geneva, WI

(800) 558-3417 or (262) 248-8811  $189/single/double


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.

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The National Meat Association, along with 15 other industry and related groups representing the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition of Washington, D.C., signed a letter to Rep. James Moran (D-VA-8) criticizing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for its tactics in conveying messages. The letter also expressed disappointment over Rep. Moran’s recent affiliation with PETA. In a separate letter to Rep. Moran, National Association of Biomedical Research (NABR) President Frankie Thull expressed similar concerns about PETA and Rep. Moran’s affiliation with the group. The industry letter as quoted in last week’s edition of Lean Trimmings is not associated with NABR.




On June 11, 2003, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published an interim rule and request for comments entitled, “Exotic Newcastle Disease; Removal of Areas from Quarantine,” in the Federal Register. The rule, effective June 5, 2003, amends the exotic Newcastle disease regulations by removing Dona Ana, Luna, and Otero Counties, NM, and Hudspeth County, and portions of El Paso County, TX, from the list of quarantined areas, which also removes restrictions on the movement of birds, poultry, and certain other articles from those areas. Comments received on or before August 11, 2003 will be considered. Access the rule on the Web at:





For more information and registration materials, contact NMA at 510-763-1533 or [email protected]



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

June 16, 2003




In the later part of 2001, FSIS introduced plans to verify the operation of industry’s food safety systems by evaluating HACCP and SSOP programs as to their compliance with the regulatory requirements.  The first in a series of evaluation systems was designated “In Depth Verification” (IDV), which consisted of multidiscipline teams utilizing checklist type protocols designed to evaluate an establishment’s food safety system.   


The HAACP Inspection Coordinator would receive data from the IDV and would determine whether or not the establishment is in compliance with the regulatory requirements.  After consulting with IDV team members the Inspection Coordinator would prepare a letter to the plant based on the IDV assessment data.  If the Inspection Coordinator determined that there was significant non-compliance with regulatory requirements, then the District Office may issue the company a Notice of Intended Enforcement Action (NOIE) letter.   However, if the Inspection Coordinator concluded that there were no significant non-compliances, but that further action was needed on the part of the plant, the Inspection Coordinator would prepare a 30-day reassessment letter that would cite FSIS’s concerns on any issues that required the establishment’s attention.  


The 30-day letter may request that the establishment perform a reassessment or provide further information and clarification of a specific design aspect of their food safety system.  Unlike an enforcement action, the 30-day letter is not published in FSIS’s quarterly enforcement report.  However, not responding to a 30-day letter or providing an inadequate response may result in an escalation from a simple request to a Notice of Intended Enforcement Action (NOIE).


In part a creation of FSIS’s 5-year strategic plan, the new Consumer Safety Officer position (CSO) would have the authority to issue a 30-day letter based on results of the CSO’s complete assessment of a plant’s food safety program design features.  A 30-day letter can also be the outcome of the newly created PEER District Reviews, which replaced FSIS’s Food Safety System Correlation reviews.  Thirty-day letters have been used in these instances as an alternative communication tool to “preclude the need for significant enforcement actions.”


The 30-day letter is identified in the recently revised FSIS Directive 5000.1 as a vehicle for providing recommendations to a plant based on findings of a CSO visit.  In addition, the revised Directive identified District Mangers utilizing the 30-day letter in instances where a plant has sustained a B set Salmonella failure to outline the District’s concerns, request records, or inform the plant to conduct a reassessment.


Lastly, assigned inspection personnel who have concerns with a plant’s HACCP plan design or its scientific basis may also issue a 30-day letter if an immediate resolution cannot be attained.  Again, the 30-day letter should specifically state the unresolved concerns and why the plant is not fully meeting the regulatory requirements. 


The NMA staff is available to assist members with specific issues affecting their operations.


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NMA Communications Manager Kiran Kernellu attended USDA’s COOL informational session in Sacramento, CA on June 12th. After a presentation on the law, including the Agency’s “current thinking” on various aspects of COOL, there was an extensive public comment period. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a copy of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Power Point presentation. Electronic session information is available on the Web at


Notable among the Agency’s current thinking is the makeup of the compliance label. As it stands now, for a mixed product the label must include the country of origin for each processing step, if more than one country is involved. For instance, a label might read, “Product of Canada, Raised and Processed in U.S.A.” The term “processed” may be used in lieu of “slaughtered” on COOL labels. For blended products, if each constituent can be individually identified, each constituent must be labeled. If individual ingredients can’t be identified, constituents must be labeled in order of prominence by weight. For example, a COOL label on ground beef might read, “Product of Mexico, Raised and Slaughtered in U.S.A.; Product of U.S.A.; Product of Australia.” Imported covered commodities, such as imported salmon in consumer packages or a beef carcass that will be fabricated into retail cuts, will retain the origin designation required at the U.S. port of entry. Since the current thinking is that records can only be created by the person with first-hand knowledge of the country designation for each production step, retailers and suppliers must maintain auditable records to verify the country of origin of covered commodities. Therefore, livestock producers will need to create these records so that retail suppliers can supply retailers with correct country of origin information.


The Agency has indicated that it will seek cooperative agreements with each state for retail compliance reviews, which will be scheduled and structured by USDA. There will be random retail audits as well as routine audits.


The COOL provision grants USDA enforcement authority for retailers, packers and other persons. Retailers are subject to a $10,000 fine per offense for willful violations. Suppliers face the same penalty, however USDA isn’t bound to the “willful violation” burden of proof for suppliers.


The public comment period was lively, to say the least. From the quoting of a popular musical to declarations of a repeal of the law in the works, the commentary was often highly emotional. The industries covered by COOL were represented well, but there were just a few comments from individual consumers. Some industry comments cited studies to show that consumers want and will pay for COOL information. The cost of COOL implementation was also deliberated, mostly to espouse that the cost estimates to date are too high. Some organizations suggested “cost-effective” compliance methods such as self-certification, import tracking, eartags, branding, etc. It was noteworthy to witness that companies and organizations from each industry of covered commodities as well as related industries had some particular problem with implementation as each had envisioned it. To illustrate, a company that makes the adhesive labels found on produce provided comment concerning the amount of information that could fit on the label. The speaker stated that abbreviations would have to be used, as the labels are roughly only about one-half square inch in size. He also said that it would be impossible to get 100% label coverage on produce. In sum, the public comment period relayed what one speaker said, “The debate is far from over.”


USDA officials repeatedly stressed the need for comments and feedback. In his closing remarks, AMS Administrator A.J. Yates stated that the information gleaned from the informational sessions is invaluable. He also reiterated the need for those concerned to continue to talk with the Agency. He said that the Agency wants the law to work for all segments (industries). AMS anticipates having the mandatory rule promulgated and ready for comment by this fall. In the interim, comments may still be submitted to Country of Origin Labeling Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, Stop 0249, Room 2092-S, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-0249, fax (202) 720-3499, or e-mail [email protected].