NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Kiran Kernellu
June 23, 2003
Last Tuesday the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture voted unanimously to bar funding for the implementation of COOL for meat under a provision in the FY 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The funding block doesn’t apply to seafood, peanuts and fresh produce covered by COOL. If the FY 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill passes with this provision, mandatory rules for COOL meat won’t be promulgated by September 30, 2004. The full committee is expected to vote on the funding this week, according to Cattle Buyers Weekly.
If the current FY 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill is ultimately approved by the House, Senate, and President Bush, mandatory COOL for meat won’t be implemented until September 30, 2005 at the earliest, provided the funds are allocated for it in the FY 2005 Agriculture Appropriations bill. “Before any decision is made, the producers, processors, retailers and meat industry must have the opportunity to consider the ramifications,” Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) said in an Associated Press report.
Rep. Bonilla, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, included the provision in the appropriations bill. According to the California Cattlemen’s Legislative Bulletin, Mr. Bonilla’s comments indicate that he would like to ensure that Congress adequately assesses the implications of mandatory country of origin labeling of meat products prior to implementation by USDA. He pointed out that many of the ranchers in his district are extremely concerned about the labeling provisions contained within the 2002 Farm Bill, and indicated that he wants the House Agriculture Committee, as the authorizing committee, to review them.
The House Committee on Agriculture will hold an oversight hearing to review the COOL provisions contained within the 2002 Farm Bill Thursday, June 26 in Washington, D.C. Members are also encouraged to share their views about COOL with their Congressional representatives. NMA Government Relations Liaison Shawna Thomas is available to assist members with this process. She can be reached at [email protected] or 202-518-6383.
During a week’s vacation in the United Kingdom last week, NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow spent a day at the 2003 World Pork Congress in Birmingham on Friday. Distinguished speakers from many countries spoke about the opportunity to shape the future of the world’s pork markets, and brought innovative insights. Concurrent translation in several languages made sure that those not fully fluent in English could participate, and made this a truly “international” event.
The speakers covered consumer trends, trade issues, technical developments and market trends for pork. The detailed program is available at http://www.worldporkcongress.com/ and NMA would be pleased to provide copies of presentations that were available. Rosemary appreciated the warm welcome by the leaders of the Congress, including Stewart Houston, a pig producer who runs a 360-sow herd in Yorkshire, and Bob Bansbeck from the Meat & Livestock Commission. Rosemary was particularly impressed with the presentation by Raoul Baxter, President for Europe and VP of Smithfield Foods, USA, who traced the development by Joe Luter for this company which is preeminent in pig production and processing in the world.
Last Thursday, the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee focused on HR 339, the “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act,” introduced by Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL) in January. The bill would protect manufacturers and restaurants from civil liability based upon food consumption, if the plaintiff cannot prove that the product violated laws and product regulations. See the February 3, 2003 Lean Trimmings for more information. The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act” would stop trial lawyers from making the restaurant industry their next target of a class-action lawsuit, according to a press release from Rep. Keller.
As reported last Friday in Food Chemical News (FCN), testimony before the Subcommittee included restaurant owner Christianne Ricchi, and public interest attorneys John Banzhaf and Victor Schwartz. Ricchi reportedly testified that the bill “focuses attention on personal responsibility and the voluntary menu choices all Americans make, rather than on costly and unwarranted litigation.” According to the FCN report, she further stated, “The thought that someone can file a lawsuit based in part on a choice they have made regarding where to dine and what to eat is disturbing.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) put forth a contrary opinion on the bill. Reportedly, CSPI said that the bill would “deprive citizens of an important recourse” and make food industries less accountable for their actions. In fact the bill merely recognizes a burden of proof; the plaintiff must be able to prove that the product violated laws and product regulations. This burden isn’t dissimilar to what a plaintiff might encounter during court proceedings. In a press release CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said, “Frivolous lawsuits deserve to be thrown out of court, and frivolous legislation should be thrown out of Congress – and the Keller bill is nothing but frivolous.” The bill does seek to prevent frivolous lawsuits, namely those do not substantiate that a manufacturer, distributor or seller of food or non-alcoholic beverages wasn’t in compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements at the time of the product sale.
Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) Executive Director Rick Berman also testified. “The stakes are high. Most of the attorneys meeting at this pre-assault legal summit are veterans of multi-billion-dollar cigarette lawsuits, and they are desperately looking for ways to make their case that food—especially high-fat, high-calorie food—is the next tobacco,” he said. See page 4 of Lean Trimmings for more on the summit. “Where most of us see dinner, they see dollar signs.” He further stated, “Considering the amount of misdirection, junk science, and shameless deception being employed by the plaintiff’s bar, it’s clear that restaurants need some reasonable amount of protection from the unprincipled attacks that are fast approaching.” Berman also criticized George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf’s attempt to promote a flimsy theory about the supposedly “addictive” nature of certain foods, according to a CCF press release. Banzhaf reportedly warned top fast food companies that they need to start warning their customers that their next cheeseburger could have a morphine-like effect. Banzhaf’s “proof” is from an article in the magazine New Scientist, a British consumer periodical that is not a scientific, peer-reviewed journal like The New England Journal of Medicine or the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The underlying issue between the bill’s proponents and opponents appears to be whether the satisfaction of statutory and regulatory requirements is sufficient to protect companies from responsibility for any consumer health problems that might be associated with a particular product. The question is: Who is responsible for how much and what an individual chooses to eat? In a June 13, 2003 Food Chemical News article, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona was reported as saying, “Even for the meals we eat out, it’s still our decision,” as to what and how much we eat. At the American Enterprise Institute’s conference on obesity and public policy, Carmona reportedly also stated that the prescription for reversing the obesity trend is more physical activity, better eating habits, and regular health checkups.
NMA members are urged to tell their Congressional representatives how they feel about HR 339. NMA Government Relations Liaison Shawna Thomas is available to assist members with this process. She can be reached at [email protected] or 202-518-6383.
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 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 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:
MC DONALD’S: PHASE-OUT GROWTH HORMONES
McDonald’s Corporation announced plans that call for its suppliers worldwide to phase-out use of animal growth promotion antibiotics that are used in human medicine, according to a June 19, 2003 press release. The Global Policy on Antibiotics Use in Food Animals also creates a set of standards for McDonald’s direct meat suppliers and encourages indirect suppliers to take similar steps to eliminate growth-promoting antibiotics and to reduce other antibiotic usage. For the full text of McDonald’s Global Policy on Antibiotics Use in Food Animals and further information about other McDonald’s social responsibility initiatives, visit: http://www.mcdonalds.com/corporate/social/.
“Direct relationship” suppliers are those dedicated to McDonald’s business and directly control the stages of animal production where antibiotic use decisions are made. The majority of McDonald’s worldwide poultry supply falls into this category. Direct suppliers must certify annual compliance with the policy, including the sustainable use guiding principles and the elimination of growth promotion uses of antibiotics approved for use in human medicine, and must maintain records of antibiotics use that are available for company audits and review. McDonald’s policy will also be encouraged for indirect suppliers, which includes most beef and pork suppliers. For indirect relationship suppliers, McDonald’s Global Policy on Antibiotics Use in Food Animals offers incentives for compliance with the policy and other actions that may reduce the potential for antibiotic resistance. Indirect suppliers seeking consideration as a preferred supplier in regards to the policy must also certify compliance and maintain records of their antibiotic use. Further, McDonald’s will encourage adoption of similar policies within the food and restaurant industry.
“As a company committed to social responsibility, we take seriously our obligation to understand the emerging science of antibiotic resistance, and to work with our suppliers to foster real, tangible changes in our own supply community, and hopefully beyond,” said Frank Muschetto, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Supply Chain Management at McDonald’s Corporation. “McDonald’s is asking producers that supply over 2.5 billlion pounds of chicken, beef and pork annually to take actions that will ultimately help protect public health.” McDonald’s Global Policy on Antibiotics Use in Food Animals was developed with a broad-based coalition of organizations interested in the issue and committed to identifying opportunities within animal agriculture.
AMERICAN LAMB BOARD NAMES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The Board of Directors of the American Lamb Board (ALB) hired Daniel Borschke as Executive Director. Currently serving as President and CEO of the Dairy Council of Wisconsin, Inc., Borschke is a Certified Association Executive and a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives. He is to head the ALB office in Denver, CO beginning July 16, 2003.
“Daniel will be the guiding force to help rekindle America’s love of American-produced lamb,” said ALB Chairman Tom Kourlis in a press release. “His strong background in upscale food products will be instrumental to our success. We are committed to our promotional efforts advancing the American lamb industry.”
UPCOMING NMA SEMINARS
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.
ALL MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO JOIN US FOR NMA’s REGULATORY UPDATE & ISSUES SEMINAR at the 2003 SUMMER CONFERENCE!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20, 2003
GRAND GENEVA RESORT & SPA, LAKE GENEVA, WI
For more information and registration materials, contact NMA at 510-763-1533 or [email protected]
OBESITY DEBATE BURNS ON
Last Wednesday, the Center for Consumer Freedom reported that attorney John Banzhaf III of George Washington University will launch a major offensive against restaurants. According to a report in USA Today, he is sending the demand in certified letters to CEOs at six major fast-food chains — McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut — as a necessary first step, he says, toward filing a lawsuit against the fast-food giants within six to nine months. He is demanding the posting of signs in all restaurants warning customers that studies on animals have shown that eating fatty foods causes addiction-like reactions. In the letter, obtained by USA Today, Banzhaf says “a growing body of evidence” indicates fast food “can act on the brain the same way as nicotine or heroin.”
Banzhaf was also scheduled to take part in a Boston, MA conference this past weekend to examine legal approaches to fight obesity, according to a Reuters report last Friday. Reportedly, the legal approach they envision would go far beyond a few consumers accusing McDonald’s of making them fat. Conference participants were asked to sign an affidavit vowing to keep secret potential legal strategies. The argument is that food companies have addicted millions of Americans to cheap, high-calorie products.
Ben Kelley, a visiting professor at Tufts University, head of the Public Health Advocacy Institute, and one of the organizers of the conference, reportedly said that with childhood obesity rates skyrocketing, the meeting would look at the ways food companies promote their products to children. “It is necessary to understand how the companies that make high-density, low-cost food market it very aggressively to schools and kids,” he said in the Reuters report. “We need to know what they have known about the impact of those strategies on overeating.”
Law professor Richard Daynard of Northeastern University in Boston, MA, said in the Reuters report that there may be appropriate grounds for a lawsuit if it can be shown that fast food outlets knew that their marketing was contributing to overeating and either did nothing or exploited that knowledge for profit. Washington-based attorney John Coale reportedly said he has “no doubt” that food companies have a strategy to hook children on fatty foods, but is unsure whether the issue is best decided by lawmakers or by courts. “You’ve got clowns, you’ve got happy meals - and it’s OK in moderation but it’s gotten to the point where it’s overkill,” he said. “Still, whether it rises to the level of a good lawsuit remains to be seen.”
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.
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
June 23, 2003
Japan has set a July 1, 2003 deadline for country of origin export certificates for all beef shipped to Japan. As reported last week in Lean Trimmings, Japan 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. Further, despite continuing dialogues, Japanese authorities reportedly sent new regulations to their quarantine officials and other export partners based on that proposal. Cattle Buyers Weekly (CBW) reported today that the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) sent these notification letters to all 26 countries that export beef to Japan.
Japan also expressed concern about Canadian feeder cattle in the U.S. and what will happen once U.S. and Canadian cattle trade resumes. CBW also reported that the looming trade crisis with Japan could mean the ban on all Canadian cattle and livestock into the U.S. will remain for several more weeks, noting that observers say resolution of the trade issues might be a requirement for lifting of the ban. In a June 20 press release, Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman stated, “We are continuing to work diligently to address the request from Japan and Korea to discuss changes in their import standards as a result of the discovery of a single case of BSE recently reported in Canada. Next week, our technical experts will be participating in tri-lateral meetings with Canada and Japan to examine the results of the Canadian investigation and explore additional science-based safeguards. Japan and Korea are important markets for U.S. beef. USDA and FDA have hosted technical delegations from these two countries and we have dispatched technical teams to those countries to improve their understanding of the BSE safeguard measures in place in the United States.”
She further stated, “Japan has proposed changes to their import standards, which they announced would be effective July 1. We have requested that Japan extend their announced July 1 deadline to provide sufficient time to assure thorough examination and implementation of any additional science-based safeguards that are determined appropriate as a result of these discussions. This matter is of utmost priority and we will continue to maintain communication at all levels to assure that this issue is resolved in an acceptable manner using the best available science.”
ESTATE TAX’S POSSIBLE REPEAL
The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation that would permanently repeal the federal estate tax by a vote of 264 to 163. If approved by the Senate, the bill will then go to President Bush for his signature or veto. If HR 8 passes, taxpayers won’t be subject to an estate tax hike beginning Jan. 1, 2011. The current estate tax provisions will expire at the end of 2010.
NMA’S 2003 SUMMER CONFERENCE
Download a copy of the brochure, which includes a registration form, for NMA’s 2003 Summer Conference at: http://www.nmaonline.org/files/brochure-word.pdf. Download a registration form for the Regulatory Issues & Update Seminar at: http://www.nmaonline.org/files/Regulatory Update _ Issues Seminar-2.pdf. Contact us at
[email protected] or 510-763-1533 to receive materials for both events by fax, e-mail or mail.
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]
American Meat Science Association (AMSA) held it’s 56th Reciprocal Meat Conference June 15-18. In addition, FSIS sponsored the Beef Food Safety program the following day, June 19. CDs of the presentations should be available mid-July and will be provided all attendees. Non-attendees who want to purchase the CD can contact AMSA at 217-356-5368.
Monday kicked off with the Opening General Session. The Keynote Address was “Making an Impact” by Rick Risby, Senior Lecturer, Speech Communication and Theatre Arts/ Life Skills Coordinator, Football Program-Texas A&M. Other speakers included Gary Smith with topic “Preparing Undergraduate Students to Meet Meat Industry Career Challenges,” and Dr. Dan Engeljohn speaking about “The State of Food Safety in the United States.”
Tuesday morning started with concurrent technical sessions-Meat Quality, Sensory Evaluation, and Food Safety. Food Safety speakers included John Sofos, Colorado State University, who spoke about the current issues related to meatborne pathogenic bacteria. Mr. Sofos spoke of the lack of interventions and inadequate detection methods for pathogenic bacteria. However, some promising interventions include vaccines, diet modifications, feed additives, probiotics, and improvement of management practices. Next was Fred Pohlman, University of Arkansas, speaking on postharvest pathogen interventions for meat and poultry. He stressed and encouraged people to use multiple interventions which have been shown to be more effective in killing greater log growths of pathogens than only using one intervention. The final speaker was Ann Marie McNamara from NMA-member Silliker Inc. presenting “Listeria Control in Ready to Eat Foods.” It is possible to control Listeria in the RTE area but it is impossible to eliminate it completely. Therefore, the most important documentation in the HACCP Plan, SSOP or prerequisite program will be the effectiveness of the program in controlling Listeria. Tuesday ended with industry tours of Excel’s Case Ready plant, Premium Standard Farms, Tyson, Woods Smoked Meats, and Burger’s Smokehouse. Burger’s Smokehouse gave a great tour of their facility, showed a short film of their family and smokehouse history, and handed out delicious samples of their products.
Wednesday included 16 different reciprocation sessions to pick and choose from. Some of the sessions included Livestock and Poultry Care and Welfare, Beef/Cow Muscle Profiling, Computer Assisted Meat Science Education, Research Protocol-Slice Shear Force, and High Pressure Pasteurization. Wednesday afternoon had three concurrent technical sessions-Muscle Biology: Cloning and Trangenics, Ingredient Technology, and Teaching.
Thursday was the post-conference symposia of Beef Food Safety sponsored by FSIS. A variety of topics were covered. Gary Acuff began with Standardizing Microbial Testing. Next, Mohammad Koohmaraie spoke about microbial sampling to verify the slaughter process and recent developments in hide interventions and then Ann Marie McNamara spoke about postharvest sampling plans for ground beef and beef trim. Dr. Dan Engeljohn presented a regulatory view on the pathogen reduction assessment and validation. Mary Cutshall gave an update on the Small and Very Small Plant Outreach programs and Harshvardhan Thippareddi spoke on pathogen reduction strategies for small operations. Finally, the symposia was concluded with presentations on new pathogen intervention strategies by Fred Pohlman and research priorities in food safety by James Reagan of NCBA.
LEARNING ABOUT COOL
NMA Director Todd Waldman invited several executives from Southern California retailers to a meeting, last Tuesday, to hear a presentation by Barry Carpenter, Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service about COOL. Also attending the session were members of the staff of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard. After the presentation, there was a lively Q&A session, giving the retailers the opportunity to learn not merely their responsibility for labeling as required by the Farm Bill, but also the penalties for failure to comply. These retailers, in one of the largest consumer markets for ground beef in the United States, provided a diversity of how they produce this popular product, from muscle, trimmings, coarse ground, imported boneless, and from trimmings in their own retail operations. Everyone came away with a lot of questions that they hope will be answered before COOL is implemented.
In the May 19, 2003 Lean Trimmings, it was reported that the Washington State Beef Commission, Washington Dairy Products Commission and Midway Meats, Inc., filed a complaint with the Washington News Council (WNC) against Seattle’s KIRO-TV. The complaint involves a series of stories aired by KIRO-TV in November 2002 that depicted alleged inhumane handling violations at Midway. The complainants contended that the stories were “factually inaccurate, incomplete, misleading, sensationalized, biased” and damaging to the reputations of the complainants as well as to that of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Washington Dairy Products Commission reported that the Washington News Council found in favor of the complainants in eight of the nine issues involved. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a copy of WNC’s findings in this matter.