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 Jeremy Russell and Kiran Kernellu

July 1, 2002




The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) have released the June 2002 Food Industry Animal Welfare Report, a listing of guidelines “for use in conjunction with the animal welfare guidelines of the individual producer and processor organizations designated in the report.” According to an FMI-NCCR press release on the topic, the report is the result of “efforts by the retail community, working with their suppliers to further develop and support programs that strengthen animal welfare.” While NMA has always supported value-added industry practices, they have generally taken the form of government guidelines. NMA’s members have, for many years, been required to meet the requirements of the Humane Slaughter Act (U.S.C 1901-1906) and the regulations thereto (CFR 9313). The FMI-NCCR guidelines call for the adoption of policies beyond government regulations.


The FMI-NCCR report is designed to “communicate publicly the industry’s progress.” The guidelines from the report, the first of a series, “[are] to be used in conjunction with the animal welfare guidelines of the producer and processor organizations identified within [the] report.” According to the National Chicken Council Washington Report, one the aforementioned entities, “FMI and NCCR announced…their endorsement of the humane slaughter guidelines for broiler chickens developed by the National Chicken Council. The endorsement means that the two groups recommend that their member companies…adopt their guidelines for use with NCC member companies and other chicken suppliers.”


The guidelines encompass marked differences from government protocols pertaining to beef cattle, dairy cattle, laying hens, turkey and swine, as well as poultry. In regards to transportation and slaughter practices, the FMI-NCCR report upholds the slaughter guidelines, training materials and audit documents of the American Meat Institute (AMI) for cattle, swine, sheep and goats. In regards to breeding and rearing, the report recommends members use the animal care guidelines of the Milk and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Center with their suppliers of milk and dairy beef, which were developed in 1990 and have recently been revised. NCBA’s animal welfare committee will work with FMI and NCCR to review and revise its 1997 guidelines in regards to the breeding and rearing of cattle on ranches and feedlots. FMI and NCCR will review the progress of producer organizations in late summer 2002. Soon after they will issue guidelines for religious processing, develop an audit system for industry retailers to identify suppliers implementing the FMI-NCCR guidelines, issue another progress report and begin to review guidelines fro veal calves and ducks.


The report, and all of its associated endeavors, only serves to advocate practices of private organizations that lack the power of oversight necessary to enforce any guidelines on the industry. Should member entities choose to comply, the resulting industry-stipulated governance may harm, as they don’t take into account the well being of all members of the meat industry, but rather only the participating organizations affiliated with the authors of the report.


PROPOSED AMENDMENT recently reported that APHIS is proposing an amendment to permit its inspectors to require that cargo be returned to its homeport or another location if it has been moved prior to inspection. Address comments regarding this proposed change to [email protected] on or before August 31, 2002 for consideration.


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Organic processors, Strauss Family Creamery of Marshall, CA and Horizon Organic of Boulder, CO, have filed a joint lawsuit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), according to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Both processors find it unfair that they are made to pay into a “state-mandated pool that…benefits only the makers of conventional dairy products,” and charge CDFA with violating their constitutional rights of equal protection and due process.


Albert Strauss of Strauss Family Creamery, who has paid nearly $2 million into the pool in eight years, claims he has gotten nothing in return. Since the laws establishing the pool were passed before organic dairy farming started, Strauss asserts that the concerns of these farmers have been ignored. CDFA doesn’t consider the heavy financial burdens of organic farmers, such as organic feed, which often amounts to 60% of the processor’s income. The results, Strauss maintains, is that “we’re subsidizing the conventional dairy industry.” Pooling fees force Strauss to charge 50 cents more per gallon of milk. Horizon’s chief financial officer, Tom Briggs, said that a decrease or elimination of the fees would mean lower consumer costs, and a likely increase in demand. This could head market expansion. Leslie J. Butler, economist for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, suggested the creation of a separate pool for organic processors. As it is, “[organic dairy farmers] get no advantages from the pool at all. It’s money that an organic processor has no hope of recovering.”




The California Beef Council is looking for the best beef restaurant in California and is taking nominations for the California Beef Backers Awards Contest until August 31, 2002. The program is based on beef promotion, beef menu applications and overall quality, and allows CA beef producers to honor restaurants that do the most to further the state’s beef industry. Call (925) 484-2333 or by e-mail ( for more information and a nomination form.




The National Provisioner recently reported the website of “the industry’s leading mail-order company, Omaha Steaks of Omaha, NE, is almost totally geared toward building on the company’s already successful catalog sales.” Tyson Foods of Springdale, AZ angles its website toward investors, focusing on products and the company. Other companies focus their website on building brand image and recognition, such as Oscar Mayer of Madison, WI. The Internet is also a powerful recruiting tool, a method ascribes to by Advanced Foods of Enid, OK. The Provisioner’s ‘Frontrunners’ list tells us that “the new e-business landscape [hasn’t] gone unnoticed by leading meat and poultry companies,” noting that 104 of the 152 companies listed have “[developed] Web sites attributed as a namesake to the company or its major brand.”


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The latest issue of Beef Magazine reported a dramatic drop in illness in six of the seven major types of foodborne bacteria. CDC reported that from 1996-2001, E. coli infections fell 21%, Salmonella 15%, Listeria and Shigella 35%, Campylobacter 72% and Yersinia 49%. The meat industry continues its vigilance against all harmful bacteria.


FSIS reported that Knauss Sausage House, Inc. of Kimball, MN has recalled 250 pounds of its sausage that may contain Listeria. Last week FSIS announced the recall of 63,000 pounds of ground beef products by J&B Meats. The meat was packaged May 13 and distributed to hotels, restaurants and institutions nationwide. In announcing the recall on June 26th,  USDA said “at present there is no definitive link between the recalled products and any illnesses.”


Foodborne bacteria arose abroad last week, also. Two cases of Salmonella were discovered, making a total of 55 confirmed cases in Monroe County, Ireland. FSNet reported some of these cases might be linked to food or a food server at Brook-Lea Country Club in Gates. The Ottawa Sun noted that Ottawa County Councilor Shawn Little was hospitalized last week after getting E. coli in Mexico. In another incident reported by Globe and Mail, officials relayed that two children were hospitalized and seven others sickened by the parasite in Brooks, Alberta. Given that these eight children attended a Brooks daycare, the ninth child being related to of one of these children, all are believed to have been infected through the same source. David Swann, medical officer of health with Palliser Health Authority, said that “there’s no evidence of food contamination, but it hasn’t been ruled out.” He added, that “it’s in pets; it’s in cows; it’s on the ground wherever these animals defecate. Even if we do find organisms, it’s not clear they were the source, because it’s such a prevalent bug.”




Recent studies have shown that harmful organisms tend to move to the center of apparently intact meat during blade tenderization, reported Food Chemical News. These organisms are then less likely to die during cooking, especially for a rare preparation. While USDA has warned the public for years about the need to cook ground meat thoroughly to prevent E. coli, it hasn’t done so for blade-tenderized meat. Dale Morse, a physician epidemiologist with the New York State Department of Health, said that USDA officials should warn the public of these health dangers and test blade-tenderized meat for E. coli, which it does only for raw meat and ground beef. According to Food Chemical News, the USDA currently views “the bug [as] an adulterant only in raw ground beef or cooked products.”


Consumers are not informed if meat has been blade tenderized. The industry maintains that health risks are miniscule because hardly any pathogens are translocated in this way, though it may only take a few organisms to cause illness. Marty Holmes of the North American Meat Processors Association said that the conditions of gross contamination in the study aren’t akin to those in a plant. Further regulatory action for E. coli testing can help identify cases of illness from these products.




According to, new research from Iowa State University shows that soy can greatly reduce cholesterol levels. Soy in ground beef may soon be seen as more than a “cheap filler … added to hamburger.”


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Since the checkoff has prevailed in all previous constitutional challenges, the U.S. District Court of South Dakota’s recent ruling declaring the unconstitutionality of the Beef Promotion and Research Act has only served to flame a 16-year-old dispute. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman intimated that USDA is “consulting with the Department of Justice to determine next steps.” DOJ is expected to initiate appeal procedures immediately, while a request for stay is considered. According to Wythe Willey, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, who deems the ruling only a temporary setback, “the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Justice (DOJ) have promised to vigorously defend the beef checkoff.” A federal lawsuit is also pending relating to the pork checkoff program, according to the National Chicken Council Washington Report.


Veneman also stated that “the beef promotion program in particular has helped beef demand to increase and has continued to increase U.S. beef exports…which led to support for the program by a majority of beef producers.” According to Neil Taylor, CEO of Meat New Zealand, “The Livestock Marketing Association, a relatively small group [that] brought the case against the Agriculture Department, believes checkoff funds used for generic beef promotion should be used to promote American beef.” Judge Charles Kornmann validated the plaintiffs, saying that the government couldn’t require cattle producers to pay for a form of speech (the advertisements) they oppose. “The Beef Board’s promotion has increased overall demand for all beef in the United States – not just ‘local’ beef,” added Taylor. Imported beef is also subject to the levy, reported Cattle Buyers Weekly; the Beef Board received $8.8 million from importers in fiscal 2001. According to J.D. Alexander, immediate-past president of Nebraska Cattlemen, Inc. and a feedlot operator, since “the most recent survey [shows] a more than two-thirds approval rating,” the consensus seems to be that the checkoff, which altogether raises $80 million annually, is as Willey regards it “an effective way for producers to invest in their future.” (see last week’s edition of Lean Trimmings for more information on this topic.)




USDA’s collection of lamb checkoff assessments begins today. Domestic lamb producers, feeders, seedstock producers and exporters will pay one-half cent per pound of live lambs sold, while first handlers, primarily packers, will pay thirty-cents-per-head of lambs purchased by the first handler for slaughter.



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 Jeremy Russell and Kiran Kernellu

July 1, 2002




NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow invited meat industry trade association leaders (AAMP, AMI, EMPA, NAMP, NCBA, NFPA, SEMA and SMA) to join in a meeting with USDA leaders last week to discuss how best to use Salmonella performance standard testing within the scope of HACCP and SSOPs. The representatives of three NMA members also attended the meeting: Todd Waldman, United Food Group; Tim Biela, Texas American Foodservice; and Brent Baglien, ConAgra Foods. Under Secretary Elsa Murano, Deputy Under Secretary Merle Pierson, FSIS Acting Administrator Bill Hudnall and Associate Administrator Linda Swacina represented the USDA.


Since the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the Supreme v. USDA case, USDA has made it clear that it will evaluate microbiological sample results from testing along with other establishment performance data in making regulatory decisions. At last week’s meeting, there was discussion about how testing, in tandem with other regulatory controls, can improve the safety of meat products, especially ground beef. The discussion included the need to obtain testing results as they are available rather than waiting for the completion of the full sample set, tracking the results of random testing with company testing of a similar sample for a trace microorganism, consider the advantages of a rolling average set, and following up with suppliers of raw materials. Salmonella is not a good indicator of insanitation because of its very random occurrence. Further, there are geographical and seasonal variations that make it even more random when it is part of a fixed 53-sample plan. Finally, other controls in grinding operations, including time and temperature, are essential to producing safe ground meat. Many companies are themselves doing a lot of testing, and are willing to share their data but currently there is no regulatory incentive, only the apprehension that they will be injured on account of their cooperation.


Dr. Murano thanked the group for the frank discussion and said that the draft notice 23-02 is still under review. She invited the attendees, and through them the industry, to continue to provide data and ideas for the further consideration of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria in Foods and the National Academy of Sciences.


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A new Directive for Advanced Meat Recovery Systems (AMR), a process to remove the attached skeletal muscles and edible tissues from beef and pork carcasses without breaking or crushing bones, was announced in a national teleconference last Tuesday. USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano pronounced that mandatory testing of AMR beef will be required to assure that no spinal cord tissue is present, reported The new rule will be effected sometime this summer, implemented via in-plant testing. Frequency and protocol of testing were not discussed.


USDA will determine an appropriate, statistically significant schedule to replace the current system of visual testing. Processors are encouraged to hold AMR product for 24 hours while lab results are verified. If contaminated product has been distributed, FSIS will request a voluntary recall. Undistributed contaminated product should be relabeled. Follow-up sampling will occur to assure corrective action has been taken, with AMR production ceasing until the success of the action is ascertained. James Hodges, president of the AMI Foundation, said that should daily testing be implemented, it wouldn’t be a big problem. AMI officials asserted that since packers have become better at removing spinal cords from carcasses, there is virtually no threat of find spinal cord tissue in AMR beef and has worked to support the application of technology that will guide proper removal of spinal cord and testing to confirm it is not in AMR product.


However, last August Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) claimed that spinal cord material was found in AMR beef nine times from 1998 to 2001. This Directive isn’t a result of consumer and activist pressure, but “a re-opening of a Directive that was carried over from the previous administration,” stated Murano. She went on to say that she “personally [cares] about making sure good science is the basis of the regulatory decisions [made].” According to Hodges, “there is no threat from AMR beef. This [Directive] is being put in place because USDA now has an analytical test to replace visual inspection that was previously done, and that’s consistent with [Murano’s] focus on making science the basis of regulatory action.” Likewise, NMA has always supported science-based regulatory Directives.




Answers to “Questions For US Beef from Producers/Exporter” last week’s Herd on the Hill, should be faxed to Edna Boyle-Lewicki at 202-501-7952 or e-mailed to [email protected]. The US Department of Commerce needs response from concerned companies by July 12, 2002. If you have questions, contact Ms. Boyle-Lewicki at (202) 482-1130.




Cattle Buyers Weekly recently reported that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture has approved special funding in fiscal 2003 for the beef industry. The Livestock Assistance Program was bequeathed $100 million, $4.5 million was allocated for analysis of the meat protein sector, and $110 million was assigned to the Market Access Program (MAP). National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA) was instrumental in lobbying for these monies on Capitol Hill.




USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service will conduct a pilot purchase program to provide schools with an opportunity to have cooked pork items in the National School Lunch Program, reported Schools indicated that pork was a definite choice for school meals in a meal-preference survey from USDA. Steve Schmeichel, chairman of the National Pork Board’s Pork Demand Enhancement Committee and a pork producer from Hurley, S.D., said “this is a great opportunity for the pork industry to expand its horizons…and introduce pork to school-aged children so it becomes a regular, nutritious option for them.”