NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612

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Edited by Kiran Kernellu

June 9, 2003




During the recent crisis when a single breeding cow with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was found in Canada, various questions arose about how the disease is transmitted. There are plenty of theories, but no absolutes!  We re-read the Q&As issued by USDA in November 2001 at the time that the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study was issued. They can be found at the USDA/APHIS website ( theory of possible importation of a sick animal from Great Britain into the United States before the U.S. imposed restrictions was considered.  It was conceded that nobody can ever say there is absolutely zero risk, but the chances of a human case are low. The scientists noted that there is always the possibility of a spontaneous occurrence of BSE, but that the potential to spread it through utilization of diseased parts into cattle feed is choked by the feed ban. 


We asked some animal scientists to answer the question about why livestock are fed non-plant materials if indeed they are natural herbivores.  Unlike Europe, the U.S. has a natural high preventive measure in that we have abundant sources of plant proteins for livestock feeding. Further, since the ruminant does not need a balanced amino acid protein, but instead simply needs a nitrogen source and it will manufacture its own protein, as long as plant proteins are cheaper than animal proteins, the economics drive the feeding of the cheapest protein. Historically, that has been plant proteins. Because both the chicken and the pig are simple stomached animals, like humans, and must be fed a protein with the balanced essential amino acids, animal proteins supply this balance.  Due to this, the price point of animal proteins has historically been higher here in the U.S. than plant proteins.  Thus, economics has protected us from having a BSE outbreak long before the government ever even knew about the disease.  There is an exception in that the dairy industry gets some price advantage for high protein milk, and they used blood meal for this purpose, which has never been implicated as a BSE infectious agent. 


Tallow has been used as an economical energy source for cattle when the price is right.  Tallow is a very low risk product for BSE, and in fact there is a study that injected tallow from infected BSE cows into mice, and it caused no infection of TSE disease in the mice.  Tallow is not banned as a feed source for ruminants.


Again, it was economics that drove the feeding of animal proteins in the United Kingdom and Europe simply because it was more competitive than imported plant proteins. It’s possible that may have occurred in Western Canada where the short growing season and lack of rainfall make it a deficit plant protein producing area, but this is pure speculation at this time.


During a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) teleconference this morning with the international review team, it was disclosed that the likely infectious agent was foreign feed introduced before the feed ban was put in place in Canada. As noted on CFIA’s website, in 1997 CFIA banned the feeding of rendered products from ruminant animals back to other ruminants, such as cattle, sheep, goats, bison, elk or deer. In December 2000, CFIA suspended the importation of rendered animal material of any species from any country that is not recognized as free of BSE.




Get the latest information in the investigation into the origins of the BSE-infected cow found in Canada at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website:


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As reported in the May 19, 2003 Lean Trimmings, many states have undergone changes in the workers’ compensation market. NMA encourages its members to communicate concerns over workers’ comp issues to their respective legislators. It’s important for representatives to know what issues their constituents face in day-to- day business.


In an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, the premiums in California were described as skyrocketing. So important is the issue [of workers’compensation insurance] that lawmakers expect changes to the $20 billion-a-year system to be part of a final deal on the state budget, according to San Francisco Chronicle Sacramento Bureau Chief George Lucas. Just ten years ago, that system cost only about $11 billion. “Premiums aren’t going to go down because now, for the first time, you’re seeing premiums reflecting the actual cost of providing the product,” said Mark Sektnan, a vice president with the American Insurance Association in Sacramento, in the article. “Until system costs are substantially reduced, there’s not going to be any relief on the premium side.” The California State Legislature and Gov. Gray Davis have pledged to overhaul the state’s workers’ compensation insurance program, which has been in place for 90 years, this year.


“California is last in benefits to injured workers and highest in premiums paid by employers, large and small,” said Alan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, in the article. “It’s costing jobs and taking money out of people’s pockets.” Indeed, as recounted in the Chronicle report, Jim Temple’s 12-employee Novato auto shop, family owned since 1951, just lost more than $24,000 when his insurance premiums to cover workplace injuries doubled to over $48,000. Temple’s shop hasn’t had an increase in injuries, but he says the cost of workers’ compensation insurance is as high as his rent. In fact, the increase this year is so steep, Temple and his sons reportedly took a pay cut. Further, when his secretary retired, he didn’t hire a new one. He also worked with the machinists’ union and scaled back retirement benefits for mechanics. “I’m working for insurance companies this year,” Temple said in the report.

These are the personal stories that legislators need to hear. Businesses of every size and type are affected, and with bills pending in the Legislature now, it’s crucial to be counted in the final debate. NMA is available to assist members in contacting legislators. Contact NMA Associate Director, Administration, Etta Reyes at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for information.


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.

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:




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 has available information on the purchases for FiscalYear 2003. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a copy.


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The latest news of Canada’s single case of BSE is that there is still only one documented case found. CFIA is undertaking a thorough and systematic analysis in its investigation, scrutinizing where the cow was in its life, where its offspring went, where and by whom the rendered products of the cow may have been consumed and what feed sources the cow may have been exposed to over the course of its life. Other than the original cow, all test results on other have come back negative for BSE.

The inquiry began with 18 quarantines and 1,700 cattle in two lines of inquiry, trace forwards and the feed investigation. CFIA has depopulated cattle from all 18 farms in these two lines of inquiry and submitted over 1,500 samples to the laboratory. All rapid diagnostic test results received from these premises are negative, and nine quarantines have been lifted.

The quarantines on the two Saskatchewan farms and one Alberta farm in the primary line of investigation were lifted Saturday, June 7. All tests have been completed on the three premises in British Columbia, and have returned negative. CFIA lifted the quarantines on two premises and the remaining one will be lifted following confirmation that the premise has been properly cleaned. The total number of locations under quarantine now stands at nine, from the total of 18.

Over the weekend, the rapid diagnostic testing on all remaining animal samples from the primary and secondary lines of investigation were completed. All tests came back negative.

Twenty-five farms had been identified in the trace-out from the primary line of investigation – 19 from Saskatchewan and six from Alberta. With the exception of one farm, these farms have not been quarantined since they involve small numbers or groups of animals.

In total, the agency depopulated approximately 1,000 additional animals from these non-quarantined farms in the primary line. All samples submitted for testing came back negative. These animals are suspected either of having a genetic connection to the infected cow or having consumed the same feed as the infected cow in 1995-96.

CFIA was also conducting 200 targeted and random feed processing inspections as a precautionary measure. The agency now has most of the results and is finding a good level of compliance with feed processing guidelines.

Twenty days have now passed since a single BSE cow was reported in Alberta. Since that time, through a comprehensive investigation, CFIA examined all of the herds that were most likely to have the highest risk of BSE, and found no additional cases.

During a CFIA teleconference this morning, it was noted that CFIA deserved praise for its thorough review. The agency was also commended for having provided good communication regarding the status of its investigation. Members of the international review team invited to review CFIA’s work stated that beef should be regarded as safe. However, cattle, because of a typical four to seven year incubation period, require different management. It was noted that BSE is an “extremely difficult disease to control,” and more cases may be found. The likelihood that the infectious agent was foreign feed imported prior to the Canadian feed ban of 1997 is significant.

CFIA reported that the international review team has validated CFIA’s findings and concurred that the active investigation stage has achieved its maximum potential. The recommendation from the team’s preliminary report is to focus efforts now on finalizing amended policy approaches to further strengthen the Canadian inspection system. Thus, the active investigation is drawing to a close. Some additional test results and information-gathering will continue to arrive in the next few days and will be reviewed.

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]


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The National Meat Association, along with 15 other industry and related groups, joined the National Association of Biomedical Research (NABR) in criticizing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for its tactics in conveying messages. In a May 30, 2003 letter to Rep. James Moran (D-VA-8) NABR President Frankie Thull wrote, “The groups signed below, representing America’s farmers, ranchers and the industries which serve them, write to express our deep disappointment in your decision to affiliate your office with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), your cosponsorship of PETA’s May 20 ‘press conference’ on Capitol Hill and your endorsement of PETA’s latest work of fiction and distortion, ‘Meet Your Meat.’”


“Those in agriculture -- true experts in animal husbandry and wellbeing -- who have viewed PETA’s video can help you understand that what’s contained in the video is out of context, much of the footage appears less than contemporary and little is representative of today’s standard and usual farm and ranch practices.  It’s unfortunate neither you nor your staff asked national farm and ranch groups or those who represent Virginia farmers if the video is accurate.


“PETA’s true nature and manipulation of the media – and politicians – is known and rejected by most Americans.  You should know PETA does not seek better farms and ranches; its goal is to abolish animal production for food.  PETA’s leader, Ingrid Newkirk, said publicly she would welcome foot-and-mouth disease in the U.S., a development that would kill millions of animals, devastate farm and ranch families, and the U.S. economy overall.  PETA opposes biomedical research using animal models, the kind of research that has given us treatments and cures for many diseases and conditions.  PETA has said if a cure for AIDS were developed via animal testing, it would oppose what would be salvation for millions. This is the kind of group with which you have aligned yourself.  This reality seems to have been lost in a race for celebrity face time.


“It is condescension of the worst kind for those with little experience in farming and ranching to lecture those who live that life that ‘animals deserve to be treated with dignity and respect…’ that ‘animals…feel(ing) pain, fear, hunger and thirst.’  You’re preaching to the choir, Mr. Moran.  


“It’s also easy to attack faceless ‘agribusiness,’ while ignoring the farm families and family companies comprising the food production system in the U.S.  What we’re saying is that farmers and ranchers also deserve to be treated with a little dignity and respect.”



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 9, 2003




On June 6, 2003, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published an interim final rule in the Federal Register entitled, “Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products.” Access the rule on the Web at: An FSIS press release on the rule can be found at: The rule requires federal establishments producing certain ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products to take steps to further reduce the incidence of L. monocytogenes.


According to the press release, the rule requires all establishments that produce RTE products exposed to the environment after cooking to develop written programs, such as their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, Sanitation Standard Operating
Procedures (Sanitation SOPs) or other prerequisite programs, to control L. monocytogenes, and to verify the effectiveness of those programs through testing.  Establishments must choose one of three alternatives to control for L. monocytogenes: employ both a post-lethality treatment and a growth inhibitor for L. monocytogenes on RTE products; employ either a post-lethality treatment or a growth inhibitor for the pathogen on RTE products; or employ sanitation measures only. Notably, FSIS indicated that it will conduct the greatest number of verification activities in those establishments that rely solely on sanitation practices. Establishments must also share testing data and plant-generated information relevant to their controls with FSIS. In addition, the rule encourages all establishments to employ additional and more effective L. monocytogenes control measures. FSIS will continue to conduct its own random testing to verify each establishment’s control program.


Further, the rule requires establishments to furnish information on the production volume and related information on products affected by the regulations.  FSIS will increase verification in operations that produce large volumes of product due to the potential impact on public health that the pathogen poses if present. Finally, the rule allows establishments to make claims on RTE product labels that describe the processes used to eliminate or reduce L. monocytogenes, or suppress its growth.  

This rule becomes effective October 6, 2003.  FSIS will accept comments until December 8, 2004, since some approaches to L. monocytogenes control set out in the interim final rule are novel.  FSIS will review and evaluate the effectiveness of these approaches. One original and two copies of each comment should be sent to FSIS Docket 97-013F, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102 Cotton Annex, 300 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20250-3700. Comments will be available for public inspection in the Docket Clerk’s Office between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, contact Daniel L. Engeljohn, Ph.D., Acting Assistant Deputy Administrator, Policy Analysis and Formulation, Office of Policy, Program Development, and Evaluation, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture at (202) 205-0495.


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FSNet recently reported that the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a consortium of over 350 physicians and scientists, urges schools and parents to approve irradiated meat for school lunches. According to an ACSH press release, “the use of irradiation on foods served in the school lunch program is especially appropriate because young children are among the groups that are particularly susceptible to serious consequences from consuming E. coli-contaminated foods. Therefore, parents should be relieved to learn that this technology will now be available for their children’s protection.”

The group also stated, “opponents of irradiation have repeatedly tried to arouse public fears, both of the process itself and of irradiation facilities, but their claims are without merit. Irradiation does not significantly affect the nutritional value of the foods treated, nor does it make food radioactive. Additionally, more than 40 irradiation facilities currently operate safely in towns and cities across the United States. In these plants radiation is used to sterilize products ranging from baby-bottle nipples and cream containers to scalpels and surgical gloves.”

ACSH Director of Nutrition Dr. Ruth Kava stated in a press release, “Some groups urge consumers to avoid irradiated foods because of purely hypothetical concerns about the process. We think that consumers should embrace the process because of its proven ability to improve food safety.” Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, ACSH president stated, “It is now up to parents and local school boards to educate themselves about food irradiation. When they do they will likely want the process used to enhance the safety of ground beef served to their children.”

ACSH recently updated its booklet, Irradiated Foods, which can be accessed on the Web at: Access the press release at:




The National Chicken Council Washington Report relayed that the poultry industry’s position on the compensability of “donning and doffing” was upheld last week. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston affirmed a lower court decision in favor of Barber Foods of Portland, ME. The National Chicken Council filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals in support of the company’s position in the Tum v. Barber Foods case.


Last year, a jury in the U.S. District Court in Portland found that the time involved in putting on and taking off outer garments was so slight as to fall under the de minimus standard. The District Court judge in the case earlier dismissed the plaintiffs claims regarding the time spent walking and waiting in connection with obtaining, donning, doffing, and disposing of the sanitary and protective gear required by the poultry processing company. The Appeals Court found that the District Court judge had “properly excluded the contested walking time” and that “under the facts in this case, waiting in line for the required gear is not compensable.” The Appeals Court opinion stated, “even when we assume, for the sake of argument, that the donning and doffing is compensable work, we find the walking time at issue falls within the Portal-to-Portal Act.” The opinion further stated, “We find that a short amount of time spent waiting in line for uniforms is the type of activity that the Portal-to-Portal Act excludes from compensation as preliminary.”


Access the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston opinion in this matter on the Web at:




USDA is holding a COOL informational session Thursday, June 12, 2003 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Sacramento, CA at California - EPA Headquarters, Joe Serna Jr. Building, Central Valley Auditorium, 1001 I Street. After a presentation by a USDA official on the law, the public input session will begin. Public input is limited to three minutes per participant. Presentations from and transcripts of informational sessions are available at Those who cannot attend the informational sessions can submit written comments 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].