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 30, 2003




On Wednesday, June 25, the House Appropriations Committee marked up legislation providing funding for the 2004 appropriations requests for programs under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Interior, and Agriculture. The provision to bar funding for the implementation of COOL for meat passed a vote by the Committee with no attempt to strike. The provision must now survive the vote of the full House and Senate, and ultimately President Bush. However, the passage of the provision doesn’t eliminate COOL; it simply doesn’t provide funds in federal FY 2004 to implement it.

USDA’s General Counsel, Nancy Bryson, testified at a House Agriculture Committee hearing last week and said retailers must still obey the COOL law. There’s an independent obligation under the law to retailers, she said. If the provision in the FY 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill prevails, the block in funding does mean that USDA doesn’t have the money to audit for compliance of COOL. View the USDA testimony at:

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) criticized the provision that would eliminate funding for COOL requirements for meat mandated by the 2002 Farm Bill. According to Congressional Quarterly, aides to Rep. Kaptur indicated she might offer an amendment to reinstate the COOL funds when the bill goes to the House floor.


During the mark up of the Agriculture spending bill, the House Appropriations Committee also approved a provision that would prohibit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from taking action against wholesalers, pharmacists, and individuals that import FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada. The amendment was introduced by Representative Anne Northup (R-KY), and passed 34-22 despite opposition by Chairman Young, Ranking Member David Obey (D-WI), Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Henry Bonilla (R-TX), and Agriculture Subcommittee Ranking Member Kaptur. NMA members may contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a copy of the Olsson, Frank & Weeda memo on the markup.


Correction on Summer Conference REGISTRATION FORM Dates!

Social Events:                        Thursday, August 21

                                    Friday, August 22

                                    Saturday, August 23





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


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On June 26, FSIS published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled, “Changes in Fees for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products Inspection Services--Calendar Year (CY) 2003.” The rule, effective June 29, 2003, amends FSIS regulations to increase the fees that it charges meat and poultry establishments, egg products plants, importers, and exporters for providing voluntary inspection services, overtime and holiday inspection services, identification services, certification services, and laboratory services. FSIS is raising the fees for voluntary base time and holiday and overtime inspection services. These increases in fees reflect, among other factors, the national and locality pay raise for Federal employees (4.1 percent increase effective January 2003) and inflation. Further, by this rule FSIS is also decreasing the fee for laboratory services because of greater efficiencies realized. The Agency is not changing the annual fee it charges for the Accredited Laboratory Program. Visit the rule on the Web at:

Yesterday FSIS announced a voluntary recall by Stampede Meat, Inc., Chicago, IL. The establishment is recalling approximately 739,000 pounds of frozen beef products, mostly vacuum packaged steaks, that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.


The products subject to recall were produced between March 17 and March 22, 2003, and bear the establishment code “EST. 19113” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were distributed to restaurants, institutions and retail stores nationwide, and to consumers through door-to-door sales.  The products were also distributed to institutions in Canada.


The recall was initiated after epidemiological case studies conducted by public health officials concluded the recalled product may be linked to five E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Minnesota, Kansas and Michigan. Public health officials from FSIS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several state health departments are continuing to investigate the extent of the outbreak and determine if additional products are linked to illnesses reported. 


While steaks are not generally considered a high-risk source of E. coli O157: H7, the products subject to recall were injected with tenderizers and flavor-enhancing solutions, and that process may have transferred the bacteria from the surface to the inside of the product.  Note that cooking meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees (as measured with a food thermometer) destroys E. coli O157: H7. Consumers and media with questions about the recall may contact Bill Asleson, company executive manager, at (800) 353-0933. 




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.




Please note that the first headline on page three of last week’s Lean Trimmings should be



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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported last Thursday that the Ministers of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Health released the report of the international team that evaluated Canada’s investigation into the single case of BSE detected in an Alberta cow. The report has been translated and is available on the CFIA website at:


The CFIA report also relayed that the Government of Canada will be responding quickly to the recommendations of the international team, in close consultation with provinces, territories, and the Canadian industry, and that close consultations with U.S. officials and other trading partners on moving ahead will be essential given the integrated North American market.


The international team’s report recommended actions include, but are not limited to, the following:  putting in place a national requirement that certain animal tissues, known as Specified Risk Materials (SRMs), be removed from products destined for consumption; reviewing animal feed restrictions; strengthening tracking and tracing systems; improving disease testing and surveillance; and improving disease awareness among producers, veterinarians and the public.




On June 18, 2003 Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture announced a national program to provide temporary assistance to help the Canadian cattle beef industry continue to operate while borders are closed. The program is funded at C $460 million and will be cost shared at a 60-40 ratio by the federal government and participating provinces and territories respectively.


The program has two key parts. The first consists of measures that will allow producers to receive payments for cattle owned as of May 20, 2003 that were subsequently sold for slaughter in Canada. Producers will be compensated when the price of cattle is below a reference price, which is based on market value in the U.S. Government support increases as the average price declines, and the percentage of government contribution decreases as the price declines, creating a strong incentive for producers to sell at the best price possible. Go to to view the sliding scale for payments.


The second part of the program offers processors incentives to sell or otherwise move surplus meat cuts that were produced after May 20 out of inventory. These cuts generally have a low domestic demand and are exported. This aspect of the program is designed to free up storage space, thereby allowing processors to operate at an increased capacity to serve Canada’s domestic market. View the CFIA release on the assistance program at:


Get the latest information on the investigation of the BSE-infected cow found in Canada on the CFIA website at:


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.



NMA’s resource, “The Role of Microbiological Testing in Beef Safety Systems,” which was offered in the May 27, 2003 Lean Trimmings, is currently under revision. Once the revisions are complete, the resource will be offered through a notice in the newsletter.




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 attend NMA’s 2003 Summer Conference! Download a copy of the brochure, which includes a registration form, for the Conference at: Download a registration form for the Regulatory Issues & Update Seminar at: 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.


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The California Beef Council (CBC) is conducting its fourth annual Beef Backer contest. Ranchers are encouraged to nominate a California restaurant that does a great job of selling beef products. The Beef Backer Award is designed to recognize the importance of those restaurants that “go the extra mile” to sell beef and positively portray the beef industry.


The award is based on beef promotion programs, beef menu applications, and overall quality. Winners will receive cash prizes to be used toward future beef purchases. Nominations must be received in the CBC office no later than August 29. NMA members may contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a nomination form by fax or mail. For more information, contact the CBC office at 925-484-2333, or [email protected].




USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of April 2003. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 56.5%, down from 60.0% in March. Select was 40.7%, up from 36.4% the previous month. And Prime was 2.8%, down from 3.7 % in March. For a copy of the entire report, which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Kiran Kernellu or visit




USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of May 2003. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 56.7%, up from 56.5% in April. Select was 40.7%, the  same as the previous month. And Prime was 2.6%, down from 2.8% in April. For a copy of the entire report, which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Kiran Kernellu or visit



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 30, 2003




Last week USDA officials discussed with industry leaders issues related to BSE. Officials shared some good news: Japan has extended its July 1 deadline for country of origin certification for all beef exports for 60 days to September 1.


A permanent solution must be implemented by the time the 60-day extension expires, according to officials. Japan needs assurances that the beef exports it receives originate from a BSE-free country, noted one official. Another noted that both Japan and Korea need “scientific cover,” namely a provable standard to validate the safety of beef exports from their trading partners.


The issue is complicated by the fact that there is no universally agreed upon definition for Specified Risk Material (SRM). SRMs are those parts of cattle that are thought to have a high risk of containing and transmitting BSE. In its “Report on Actions Taken by Canada in Response to the Confirmation of an Indigenous Case of BSE,” the international review team noted, “The list of SRM must be based on knowledge derived from the extensive studies on cattle, which have demonstrated that BSE infectivity may be present in brain, spinal cord, trigeminal ganglia, dorsal root ganglia, terminal ileum, eyes, and tonsils.” The Office International des Epizooties (OIE), world expert on BSE and the standard setting organization for animal health for 162 member nations, has set guidelines for SRM, but some countries have differing standards. For instance, the U.S., as a BSE-free nation, need not remove SRM under OIE guidelines for BSE compliance. Since Canada no longer holds BSE-free nation status, it is now obligated to proffer a new standard. The recommendation of the international review team, likely to become Canada’s SRM standard, differs from that of both Japan and Korea. Japan’s definition includes fewer constituents than Canada’s, but Korea’s includes more. There must be some cohesion in the standard between all three North American countries to satisfy both Japan and Korea, as we have a fully integrated industry in North America. Solidifying a North American SRM standard is the imminent goal of the U.S., and must be achieved by expiration of Japan’s extension to continue trade and reopen the border to Canada.


As one official noted, the solution may involve a quid pro quo. The resolution of the matter will indeed be a great feat of science and diplomacy. A world standard for SRMs is our far-reaching goal. NMA looks forward to providing input to facilitate the process. Members are encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns on this issue with NMA. Direct comments to NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow via e-mail at

[email protected].






·   Alma Meat Company, Los Angeles, CA

·   Cartwright’s Valley Meat Company, Grants Pass, OR

·   American Meats Processors, Wichita, KS

·   New Mexico Processing, Clovis, NM

·   Dairyman’s Meat Processing, Merced, CA



AUGUST 20-23, 2003


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


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On June 26, 2003 NMA Government Relations Liaison provided a written statement on COOL to the House Agriculture Committee. Following are excerpts of the statement. NMA members may contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for the full text of the testimony.


“It is our belief that the current law simply cannot work in the real world. While good intentions drove the legislation, the subsequent law, and the regulations proposed by the Department of Agriculture to implement it simply will not work in the very complex farm to retail store meat distribution system.  It is the belief of National Meat Association that this law should be repealed or amended because of the awesome cost burden, the practical impact on the meat industry’s ability to produce quality product, and the impossibility to follow the law without some type of animal identification program.


“It is our sincerest hope that Congress will take the points presented by our organization as well as numerous other organizations and companies and repeal Country of Origin Labeling. The provision that was inserted in the 2002 Farm Bill without official hearings on what it would do to the various industries that it affected was not thought through. The prescriptive law, which the Agricultural Marketing Service of USDA has attempted to turn into equally prescriptive regulations is a problem for our large packer/processor members and disastrous for our small and medium-sized ones. Too often, the meat industry is faced with raising objections to well-intentioned laws that are the result of political maneuvering instead of being the product of sound science and good economics.


“After this law is repealed, we will be pleased to work with Congress and develop a voluntary COOL law and program that will not hurt the very businesses it is intended to help. We see the benefits of advancing a “Product of the United States” designation and are aware that there is some consumer curiosity, especially in light of the recent BSE scare in Canada. In this regard NMA’s position is on par with livestock producer organizations such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. There are other groups who will support a voluntary COOL program while disagreeing with current law that makes it mandatory.”




The Food Industry Trade Coalition (FITC) unveiled its COOL website on Wednesday, June 18, 2003. The FITC, of which NMA is a member, holds that the mandatory law should be repealed in favor of a voluntary program.  The FITC is simultaneously committed to assisting affected companies with full compliance with the law. Visitors can view cost estimates, read statements by trading partners, find audit firms prepared to assist with implementation, view media reports about the law and sample labels on a variety of products. Learn more at:


“NMA shares with its fellow FITC members the belief that this will be a useful resource to the meat, produce, peanut and seafood industries working to comply with the law’s massive requirements,” said NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow.  For NMA members not yet connected to the Internet, please call Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 for back-up information.




The National Food Processors Association (NFPA) is having a summer sale on its “Food Security Manual for Processors, Distributors and Retailers.” The Manual is on sale for $80 plus tax and shipping - a 20% savings! The Manual provides basic information on security procedures and practices that are applicable to food processing plants, distribution centers and supermarkets. Go to to use the online publication order form, and use publication code P-FSM when ordering. Place your order before Aug. 31 to take advantage of this offer! For more information, please e-mail [email protected].