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 2, 2003




USDA/FSIS measures compliance with its HACCP, SSOP and other requirements with the Noncompliance Record (NR). These are the forms issued by inspection program personnel when there is a failure to comply with regulatory requirements and they are the agency’s primary documentation to justify regulatory control and enforcement actions. Therefore, all companies should take every NR seriously, especially those dealing with an alleged HACCP or SSOP failure.


There are two basic types of NRs: A Food Safety noncompliance and an Other Consumer Protection (OCP) NR. The new FSIS Directive 5000.1 Rev. 1 updates information regarding these NRs and should be required reading by industry personnel responsible for government compliance relations.


It is important to understand the inspection system procedure (ISP) code assigned to the NR by the issuing regulatory official. The code is found in Block 8 of the NR. ISP codes include:


When an establishment receives an NR, the establishment should first check the ISP code to confirm that the NR has been issued under the right classification. The establishment should also pay particular attention to: (1) the Relevant Regulations section (Block 6) to ensure the NR is based on a violation of a specific regulation; (2) the Noncompliance Classification Indicators (Block 9 of the NR) to ascertain whether there have been previous noncompliances for the same or similar cause; and (3) the Description of Noncompliance section (Block 10) to ensure the factual allegations are complete and correct.

If the documentation illustrates a non-compliant Food Safety condition the establishment should take immediate corrective action. Should the NR’s documentation not accurately portray conditions and not warrant a food safety classification, plant management should preserve the scene through photographs, collecting observer statements, collecting micro swabs for analysis and/or isolating the affected equipment or areas for review by FSIS Supervisory personnel.


NRs are issued with sequential numbers, which provide immediate intelligence to industry managers. About 30,000 are issued each three months to a constituency of approximately 6,500 establishments, according to USDA’s quarterly report. This suggests that the average per plant is between four and five per quarter, or about 20 per year. If your numbers are running hugely in excess of the average, you should be figuring out why; if they’re way short of the average, you’ll know what to do!


The NR is an official document and is available to requesters under the Freedom of Information Act. It can be used, and seriously misused, by industry’s critics. Checking its accuracy in every detail is really important. Generally, Food Safety NRs are more critical than OCPs. An accumulation of NRs may be used by USDA to take enforcement action, including suspension or even to initiate withdrawal of inspection.


NMA’s staff is readily available every day to assist its members to look at NRs and to appeal them if appropriate, or to suggest the best corrective action. Firms that don’t take these documents seriously are making a grave error. And finally, NMA preferred the previous system that classified noncompliances into Minor, Major or Critical. Today’s system does not do this, although agency experts can reel off some data according to the types of noncompliance, some of which are clearly more serious than others. In today’s system inspection personnel interpret technical oversights as constituting food safety non-compliance, such as minor discrepancies in entering the exact time a task is performed. The end result is the needless diversion of technical resources to resolve non-food safety issues.


Page 2


University of Idaho researchers successfully cloned a mule, reported the Denver Post, “a precocious colt that wobbled upright on spindly legs within minutes of birth.” His name is Idaho Gem, and he is the first successful clone in the horse family, especially significant because mules are a sterile species. Researchers reportedly said their work holds promise for expanding herds of endangered horses.

“He’s a vibrant, healthy, vigorous foal,” said Dirk Vanderwall, recruited from Colorado State University to join the Idaho research team, in the report.

Idaho researchers tapped the genes of a champion racing mule and raised the concentration of calcium in its in vitro culture medium. The team bred the parents of world-racing champ Taz to produce a fetus. That pregnancy was terminated at 45 days to produce a cell line expressly for cloning. They collected eggs from donor mares and incubated them. Then, they sucked out the horse nucleus, and replaced it with the mule nucleus.

When fertilization happens naturally, sperm releases a protein that causes the egg to release calcium in spikes and triggers the egg to develop into an embryo. The Idaho team noticed that spike and hiked the amount of calcium in its culture medium, which enabled more calcium to reach the egg.

There were 305 eggs containing mule DNA transferred into surrogate horse mothers. Twenty-one mares were still pregnant two weeks later, and three pregnancies continued, with Idaho Gem born on May 4th and two genetic siblings close to delivery.

Reportedly, cloning technology is still problematic, creating abnormal placentas, a higher-than-normal percentage of birth defects, obesity, and hampering of the onset and offset of crucial genes in the clones.



The California Department of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Export Program, in cooperation with the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA), is currently surveying organic companies within California. The purpose of this survey is to help the Agricultural Export Program and WUSATA identify programs and services of benefit to both organic producers and exporters alike. The survey should only take a few minutes. The deadline for this survey is June 10th. Please use the link below to access the online survey:


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.



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.


All Members Are Invited to Join Us for NMA’s 2003 Summer Conference!

AUGUST 20-23, 2003


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


Page 3



The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) provided current (as of today) information regarding the status of the BSE disease investigation. All animals from the case farm, the trace-forward premises, the first line of inquiry of the trace-back premises, and the three farms in the province of British Columbia associated with the feed investigation have been slaughtered, a total of just over 1,160 head of cattle. The case farm, the trace-forward farms and one of the premises in the primary line of inquiry previously reported negative. The additional tests performed on these premises are also negative. Further, negative results were received on the farm on which pasture co-mingling occurred and partial results on the other herd in the province of Saskatchewan in the primary line of inquiry are also negative. CFIA awaits the results of DNA testing to help identify the birthplace of the positive animal.

The investigation continues with further trace-out initiatives from the first line of inquiry. As the trace-outs are completed, no additional farms will be quarantined, but individual animals will be evaluated and assembled for testing. CFIA released the quarantine on the three trace-forward farms over the weekend because the remaining animals were neither related to the index cow nor had a common feed source. This brings the total of quarantined farms down to 14. With the negative results on the co-mingled premises, CFIA will be moving to remove the quarantine there, as well. CFIA will also remove the quarantine on the case farm following its cleaning and disinfection later this week. Lifting of the quarantines in British Columbia related to the feed investigation will be undertaken with receipt of negative results and completion of the environmental cleanup.

Dr. Brian Evans, Chief Veterinary Officer of Canada, has commissioned a team of international experts from Switzerland, New Zealand, and the U.S. to review CFIA’s epidemiological investigation and response to the finding of a single positive animal. These individuals will be asked to validate that CFIA’s actions have been appropriate and whether proposed policy adjustments are warranted. During a teleconference this morning, Dr. Evans also intimated that a quantity of test results will be available in the next 36 hours, including DNA test results that may lead to a source farm for the BSE-positive cow. So far, roughly 700 animals associated with the case animal have tested negative for BSE. No animals in Canada have tested positive for BSE since the single case animal. When questioned during the teleconference about the prospect of the lifting of bans on Canadian ruminants, Dr. Evans stated that the lifting of quarantines is appropriate as the investigation “stands on its own merit.”  Again, the single case animal was prevented from entering the feed supply, a signal success after ante mortem inspection.



The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a “prompt letter” to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging them to include new information about omega-3 fatty acids and trans fatty acids in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Food Guide Pyramid.  In the letter, Dr. John Graham, Administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), urges HHS and USDA “to consider revising the Dietary Guidelines and Food Guide Pyramid to emphasize the benefits of reducing foods high in trans fatty acids and increasing consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid.”  The letter cites increasing scientific evidence that consumption of omega-3 fatty acid reduces the risk of heart disease, and increasing evidence that consumption of trans fatty acids increases the risk of heart disease. 


The prompt letter also recommends that the Food Guide Pyramid be revised “to better differentiate the health benefits and risks from foods.”  The Dietary Guidelines affect the content of more than 25 million school lunches, while the Food Guide Pyramid appears on many food products, providing consumers with an outline of what to eat each day, according to an OMB press release. HHS and USDA issue the Dietary Guidelines jointly every five years; the next edition is scheduled for 2005.  USDA issues the Food Guide Pyramid; it was introduced in 1992 and hasn’t been updated since. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the OMB press release and letter.


Page 4




The American Lamb Board will meet again June 4-6 at the Renaissance Denver Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street, Denver, CO. Agenda topics include the American Lamb Board spring promotion and strategic planning on upcoming summer and fall programs. The Board will also conduct interviews for American Lamb Board Executive Director.


Public comments will be received at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 4th, and at 7:45 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, June 5th and 6th. Written comments are also welcome. Contact American Lamb Board Secretary Margaret Magruder at 503-728-2945 for more information.



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 2, 2003




U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13) has introduced legislation that would include poultry and goat meat in the country-of-origin labeling requirements passed in the 2002 Farm Bill. The bill, The Farm Commodity Fair Labeling Act of 2003 (H.R. 2270), was introduced May 22nd in the House of Representatives. The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.


Currently, poultry and goat are the only two types of meat that are not required to be labeled with country of origin. “When the Farm Bill was passed last year,” Thornberry stated in a press release, “it included a provision that will require meat sold in the United States to have a label indicating the country from which it came. The apparent intention of the provision was to give consumers information about the origin of the meat they buy in their local grocery store.
Yet there are a number of serious questions about this law that need to be addressed, and not treating meats equally is one of them. We should not play favorites. If we are going to mandate labeling for some meats, we should treat all meats the same.”



Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) reintroduced the Obesity Prevention Act (HR 2227). Food Chemical News reported that the bill, first introduced late last fall, wasn’t acted upon because the Congressional session ended. It’s composed of anti-obesity measures aimed at school-aged children. The measures include: $10 million annually for grants to be awarded to no more than 20 state educational agencies to create model nutrition education and physical fitness programs for students in elementary and secondary schools, $20 million annually for up to 100 grants (at least one per state) to establish pilot projects promoting healthy eating habits and increasing physical fitness, and the creation of the Commission on Obesity Treatment and Prevention to “oversee the research, policy formation, and other activities of the federal government regarding the prevention and treatment of obesity.” The bill has been referred to the Education and Energy Committees. 



On May 28, 2003, FSIS issued Directive 5,000.1, Rev. 1, which has been rewritten in its entirety as a handbook, “Verifying an Establishment’s Food Safety System.” The handbook provides comprehensive direction to Consumer Safety Inspectors (CSIs) and Consumer Safety Officers (CSOs) on how they are to protect public health by properly verifying an establishment’s compliance with the pathogen reduction, sanitation, and HACCP regulations. It also forms the basis for the agency’s new Food Safety Regulatory Essentials Training (FSRE). NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the Olsson, Frank & Weeda memorandum summarizing the USDA directive. Access the directive on the Web at:


Page 2




The USDA released a revised ground beef purchase specification that accommodates the use of irradiated ground beef in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) on Thursday, May 29th. The specifications, question and answer fact sheet, press release, and other documents on the new purchase specification are available at: beef_whatsnew.htm. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the Olsson, Frank & Weeda memorandum summarizing the USDA information.


In January 2004, school districts will have the option to order irradiated beef products from USDA. The 2002 Farm Bill mandates that USDA allow for the use of irradiated beef in the NSLP because the agency cannot prohibit in its commodity purchase programs the use of any technology to improve food safety if that technology has been approved by the Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of Health and Human Services. USDA approved the use of irradiation on raw meat and poultry products in 1999. The agency is attempting to comply with the Farm Bill mandate in a way that will allow school districts the same choice as consumers when deciding whether to purchase irradiated beef products. The agency clarified that irradiation is intended to supplement, not substitute for, existing food safety requirements.


While irradiated and non-irradiated ground beef products are subject to the same general requirements under the new purchase specification, there are additional requirements for irradiated beef products. The Food and Nutrition Service will provide an informational package to all school districts and will encourage the districts to educate food service personnel, parents and students about irradiated beef products. Package materials include answers to commonly asked questions about irradiation, a website address for consumer information, and information that addresses labeling of irradiated products on the lunch line.




On Thursday, May 29th APHIS published an interim rule in the Federal Register adding Canada to the list of regions where bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) exists, thereby restricting the importation of ruminants and ruminant products from Canada. The rule is effective retroactively to May 20, 2003, which is the day APHIS announced that it was suspending the importation of ruminants and ruminant products from Canada because of the finding of BSE in a single cow in Northern Alberta. Comments on the interim rule must be submitted by July 28, 2003.


It is not known when the ban will be lifted. The interim rule does allow the Administrator of APHIS to permit ruminants or ruminant products to be brought into the U.S. under certain conditions. APHIS is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to implement a program that would permit selected “certified” establishments in Canada to import ruminants or ruminant products that originated in BSE-free countries into the U.S. Access the rule at:


On May 27, 2003, FSIS issued a notice to reiterate to veterinary medical officers that they are to pay particular attention to cattle showing signs of central nervous system disorders. FSIS is reissuing this information in light of the recent discovery of a single cow infected with BSE in Canada. Access the notice at:



FSIS’ has updated the 178-page Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book.  Download a copy of it at: