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

July 14, 2003




NMA’s Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow, who attended a meeting hosted by the International Beef Industry Congress (IBIC) last Friday in Calgary, Canada, said that she agrees with USDA Secretary Ann Veneman about the safety of Canadian beef. Veneman said last Thursday that she’s convinced Canadian beef is safe but would give no time frame for reopening the border. (BSE has never been identified in muscle tissue.)


The Friday IBIC meeting in Calgary provided an information-packed session with leading speakers about beef issues, many of which are covered in great depth at the International Livestock Conference (ILC) “think tank” meeting held annually in conjunction with the Houston Livestock Show in February.  Notably, there were leading experts from Australia, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. in panels ably chaired by Dr. Gary Smith of Colorado State University.  BSE, and the beef ban, were never far from the main focus. Speakers like Dennis McGivern of Sparks Commodities, Richard McDonald from Texas Cattle Feeders, and Phil Seng from U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) provided insightful observations. Dr. Graeme Clark of AgCanada stood in for Dr. Brian Evans who, understandably, was called to government meetings on BSE. Mr. Dennis Laycraft, CEO of Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, spoke clearly about the Canadian industry’s cooperative efforts to seek an early resolution to reopen the border.


Most notable, the Canadian livestock and meat industry, which is under huge stress at this time, turned out with about 300 attendees, and Rosemary noted in particular that there were many women in attendance. She made a specific recommendation that they attend the February IBIC meetings in Houston where the participatory format is inclusive of everyone’s views. 


Finally, a large delegation of U.S. attendees, including Dan Gattis who runs the Houston Livestock Show and is the chairman of the International Stockmen’s Educational Foundation, was a huge vote of moral support for our sister industry north of the border during this perilous time.  Everyone enjoyed a wonderful roast beef dinner on Friday evening, even as the Canadian beef market so dependant on its trade relationship with the U.S., who is its largest customer, was in the tank. More information about the meeting and the Congress is at:




As reported in today’s Herd on the Hill, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano released a food safety vision document last week to guide ongoing efforts to improve the safety of U.S. meat, poultry and egg products and protect public health. “Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future” will function as a roadmap for the industry in its continued efforts to achieve enhanced food safety. NMA appreciates the efforts in developing this decisive roadmap that clarifies the goals and processes of food safety. Most especially, we applaud Dr. Murano for her laudable and tireless efforts to bring this food safety vision to fruition.


Go to to view “Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future.”


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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule in the Federal Register on Friday, July 11, 2003 entitled, “Food Labeling: Trans Fatty Acids in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrient Content Claims, and Health Claims.” The rule, effective January 1, 2006, amends FDA regulations on nutrition labeling to require that trans fatty acids be declared in the nutrition label of conventional foods and dietary supplements on a separate line immediately under the line for the declaration of saturated fatty acids. View the rule on the Web at:


The FDA also published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Friday entitled, “Food Labeling: Trans Fatty Acids in Nutrition Labeling; Consumer Research to Consider Nutrient Content and Health Claims and Possible Footnote or Disclosure Statements.” The FDA is issuing this notice “to solicit information and data that potentially could be used to establish new nutrient content claims about trans fatty acids (trans fat); to establish qualifying criteria for trans fat in current nutrient content claims for saturated fatty acids (saturated fat) and cholesterol, lean and extra lean claims, and health claims that contain a message about cholesterol-raising lipids; and, in addition, to establish disclosure and disqualifying criteria to help consumers make heart-healthy food choices.” View the notice at:
Additionally, FDA is requesting comments on whether it should consider statements about trans fat, either alone or in combination with saturated fat and cholesterol, as a footnote in the Nutrition Facts panel or as a disclosure statement in conjunction with claims to enhance consumers’ understanding about such cholesterol-raising lipids and how to use the information to make healthy food choices. Information and data obtained from comments and from consumer studies that will be conducted by FDA also may be used to help draft a proposed rule that would establish criteria for certain nutrient content or health claims or require the use of a footnote, or other labeling approach, about one or more cholesterol-raising lipids in the Nutrition Facts panel to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices. 
Submit written or electronic comments by October 9, 2003 to Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852 or
Contact Julie Schrimpf, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-832), Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy, College Park, MD 20740, (301) 436-2373, for more information on either notice.




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.


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The White House seems to have assumed management of the entire BSE issue. Cattle Buyers Weekly (CBW) noted today that observers said as much after high-level meetings at the White House last week. In fact, Japan’s Minister of Agriculture met with Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Canadian Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief over the weekend.


CBW also reported that the U.S. might initially reopen the Canadian border to boneless boxed beef, but continue to ban live ruminants. The reconciliation of the differing definitions of SRMs has not yet been announced.




FDA announced on Friday the filing of a Consent Decree of Permanent Injunction in the U.S. District Court of the Western District in Tacoma, WA against X-Cel, Feeds, Inc. of Tacoma, WA and some of its individual officers for violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. According to an FDA press release, both the company and its officers admitted liability for introducing adulterated and misbranded animal feeds into interstate commerce in the consent decree. The company and its officers also agreed to implement measures to correct the violations, under FDA’s supervision, in the decree. Specifically, X-Cel was found to be violative of the 1997 Animal Feed Rule, an anti-BSE measure.




Safeway, Inc., the fourth largest grocer in the nation, has notified its suppliers by letter that it will expect to modify its vendor agreements for the next fiscal year so that it can meet COOL requirements. The requested steps include: sticker or stamp all covered commodities with COOL information; maintain records and a verifiable audit trail for COOL information; indemnify Safeway from fines and other costs associated with suppliers’ COOL information, or lack thereof; segregate all covered commodities until delivered to Safeway, and maintain documentation as to the efficacy of this segregation; and provide Safeway with audit results from USDA and any third parties evaluating the systems in place to assure accuracy of COOL information. Safeway has also asked that all suppliers of covered commodities under COOL provide a letter of intent by September 30, 2003 detailing compliance with the request. NMA members may contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of the letter.




CBW reported today that U.S. Premium Beef (USPB) may purchase a 71% share in Farmland National Beef (FNB). A bankruptcy judge must first approve the sale of Farmland Industries’ share in FNB at a hearing scheduled for tomorrow. Judge Jerry Venters has approved USPB’s $232 M offer, and creditor groups have also agreed to the terms. There have been no competing bids. If USPB’s is the winning bid, FNB will continue its operations without interruption.



July 17-18 - Advanced HACCP -- Los Angeles, CA

August 20Regulatory Update & Issues Seminar – Lake Geneva, WI

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.


AUGUST 20-23, 2003


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




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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NMA Communications Manager Kiran Kernellu recently responded to a reader letter published in the June 10, 2003 Oakland Tribune that disparaged the federal government and the meat industry in relation to the management of BSE. An abridged version of her response was published in the July 3, 2003 Tribune as follows:


“RE. THE JUNE 10 letter, ‘Don’t go mad, go meatless:’ Contrary to the author’s presumptions, the U.S. ban on Canadian ruminants is a clear testament to the efficacy of safeguards against BSE (mad cow disease).


“The author feels that the testing of 20,000 cattle annually is “too little.” In fact, the U.S. doubles the testing recommended by the Office International des Epizooties -- the world expert on BSE and the standard setting organization for animal health for 162 member nations.


“Under the international standard, a BSE-free country like the United States would be required to test only 433 head of cattle per year. The USDA is now testing 41 times that amount.


“OIE guidelines also require a risk analysis and management strategy, an education and awareness program and compulsory notification requirements in order for a country to claim that it is BSE free. The United States exceeds these criteria in all categories.


“In addition, there is no evidence to show that consumption of meat from an animal that hasn’t developed BSE is a risk. There is no evidence that shows that animals that young can develop the disease at all.


“I take great pride in representing American families working in one of the oldest industries in our nation. I’m proud to work daily in an industry that strives to improve upon innovations in food safety and produces the safest meat possible for our families at home and abroad.” The full text of the letter is available at:




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

July 14, 2003




On Thursday, July 10, 2003 USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano released a food safety vision document that will guide ongoing efforts to improve the safety of U.S. meat, poultry and egg products and protect public health. The document, entitled, “Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future,” outlines accomplishments to date and challenges to overcome in further reducing the incidence of foodborne illness. “Americans enjoy one of the safest food supplies in the world and it is getting safer,” Murano said in a press release. “However, in spite of recent positive trends in reductions in foodborne illness, we also recognize the need to intensify our efforts to reduce illnesses even further. This document will help guide us as we focus on risks and science based solutions to meet future challenges.”


In March 2003, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman called for creative and effective ways to modernize the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) ability to continue to improve the safety of U.S. meat, poultry and egg products to better protect public health. The document identifies goals and strategies to be pursued by FSIS and identifies many key steps taken in the past year to further protect public health. In addition to these ongoing efforts, a strong system of checks and balances is important to an effective food safety system, Murano said. FSIS is examining how it can best utilize its resources and authorities to further enhance its systems, while providing incentives for compliance, and is working with interested parties to modernize and further enhance compliance efforts. Murano also said that public input into the document is vital as FSIS works to implement several key initiatives to enhance meat and poultry safety and improve food inspection systems, including:


“Food Safety Technologies - FSIS is working to lessen the time between the development and implementation of new technologies that will improve meat and poultry safety. To accomplish this task, the Agency is establishing a new office of technology approval review so that the process can be streamlined and focused.


“Baseline Studies - FSIS will be conducting baseline studies to determine the nationwide levels of various pathogenic microorganisms in raw meat and poultry. In the past, limited baseline studies were used to establish performance standards, which are used to verify sanitary conditions at meat and poultry plants. These new baseline studies will be conducted on a continual basis, yielding national trends and a way to judge the performance of initiatives designed to reduce the level of pathogens in meat and poultry products. The net result will be more targeted interventions and effective elimination of sources of foodborne microorganisms.


“Research Agenda - FSIS is working with the Research, Education, and Extension mission area at USDA to coordinate food safety research priorities and needs. The research agenda will include a mechanism by which research needs in food safety are prioritized. USDA held a food safety research agenda symposium in June 2003 to help initiate the development of a unified research agenda that will complement efforts by industry and academia.


“Risk Analysis Coordination - FSIS will establish a risk analysis coordination team in order to better focus and plan long-term risk analysis activities. FSIS also will coordinate with researchers within and outside USDA so that risk analysis is conducted more efficiently, utilizing the best science.


“Training - FSIS will retool its education and training programs so that its workforce is better prepared to implement and enforce new food safety regulations. The Agency will focus on recruiting scientifically educated employees and retooling its training and education programs for all inspectors. First, all training programs will be updated to incorporate a public health focus by melding scientific and technical principles with training on technical and regulatory approaches to inspection. Second, the delivery of training will be augmented through interactive sessions near employee work sites, as well as through on-site and regional training programs.


“Best Management Practices - In consultation with livestock producers, researchers and other stakeholders, FSIS is developing a list of best management practices for animal production facilities such as feedlots to provide guidance in reducing pathogen loads before slaughter.”


View the entire document at: Submit comments on the document to Mary Cutshall, Aerospace Building, 3rd Floor, Room 405, FSIS/USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20250. NMA commends all those whose hard work and dedication contributed to the food safety vision. We look forward to collaborative efforts with USDA/FSIS to work toward the vision of heightened food safety.


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On Thursday the FDA unveiled new guidelines for food product labels that would allow for government-approved claims about health benefits even if they have not been decisively proven. In an industry driven by science-based governance, the move is likely to be contentious. Previously, FDA hadn’t allowed food producers to make health claims about products unless the Agency decided they had been conclusively confirmed.


“This new initiative will better protect consumers from making uninformed or misinformed choices about their diet and nutrition, by giving consumers better information about the health consequences of those choices,” McClellan stated in a press release. “This is aimed at making companies want to develop healthy products and to do the science that supports their claims,” McClellan said in a Washington Post article.


Under the new rules, first outlined in December (see the December 30, 2002 edition of Herd on the Hill), language for “qualified” claims will vary depending on how much scientific support stands behind them. A panel of experts will evaluate proposed claims, and will start reviewing petitions Sept. 1.


The FDA will consider claims in four categories with grades of A, B, C or D. An A means there is “significant scientific agreement” on the claim, while D means there is “little scientific evidence supporting this claim.” Each claim will have a 30-day public comment period in addition to the assessment of the accompanying authenticating science.


The onus is on the food industry to make legitimate claims about products. “The FDA review process for making qualified claims, when combined with our strong enforcement work, will reward companies that make healthier products while more aggressively enforcing the law against companies that appeal to consumers through false and misleading health claims,” McClellan said in a press release.


Read more about this issue on FDA’s website at:




Last Tuesday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, MO ruled that the beef checkoff is unconstitutional. The Court found that the beef checkoff program violated the First Amendment rights of cattle producers because it forced them to contribute to speech that they do not support, thus depriving them of their right to free speech. “We conclude that the government’s interest in protecting the welfare of the beef industry by compelling all beef producers and importers to pay for generic beef advertising is not sufficiently substantial to justify the infringement on appellees’ First Amendment free speech rights,” said Chief Judge James B. Loken and Judges Theodore McMillan and George B. Flagg in the opinion. Further, “Unlike fees charged for the use of recreational facilities or special taxes imposed on nonessential consumer products, the mandatory assessments at issue in the present case are directly linked to appellees’ source of livelihood, and they have no meaningful opportunity to avoid these assessments.” The appeals court also noted that the program is a type of “government interference with private speech.”


The appeals court upheld the ruling of U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann in South Dakota made last year. Markedly, the appeals court noted that the beef checkoff program is almost identical to an assessment imposed on mushroom growers that the Supreme Court held to be unconstitutional in 2001. The Supreme Court did uphold a checkoff program for fruit trees, however. Appeals courts in Denver, CO and Philadelphia, PA have upheld the beef checkoff program, so in all probability the Supreme Court will be asked to decide the issue. “This will almost certainly wind up in the Supreme Court,” said Monte Reese, a spokesperson for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board in Centennial, CO, in the National Chicken Council Washington Report. “When you have conflicting decisions from circuit courts, it’s almost a given that the Supreme Court will ultimately have to decide.”


The appeals court said the program will continue in its seven-state territory until the court issues a final order, but its ruling is that the collection of fees should cease.  In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman expressed disappointment in the ruling. “We are consulting with the U.S. Department of Justice to determine the next steps regarding this matter.” She added, “USDA regards such programs when properly administered as effective tools for market enhancement.”