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 7, 2003


U.S./CANADA TRADE                                                                                                                     


Four major industry groups, NCBA, CCA (Canadian Cattlemen’s Association), NMA and AMI, wrote to Ag leaders in the United States and Canada (Ag Secretary Veneman, Ag Minister VanClief, FDA Commissioner McClellan, and Health Minister McLellan) last week urging them to make science-based decisions to support livestock trade and to protect the public health.  In so doing, the groups urged the two countries to communicate with their global trading parners and others to gain acceptance of the decisions, and that the U.S. Canadian border be reopened to the movement of cattle, beef and beef products on the basis of the Harvard University BSE Risk Assessment.  They urged the completion of the three-step process by the end of July 2003. To assist in this effort, the groups urged the establishment of a global definition and enforcement program for SRM based on sound science, and the protection of public health by preventing SRMs from being incorporated into any beef product for consumers.  Further, the groups call for an action plan outlining how to expand BSE surveillance, development of an animal ID system in the U.S. that will allow quick response in the event of an animal disease situation, and communication of the application of the Harvard RA model, in consultation with scientists, animal health experts, packers and producers.  Finally, the groups urged that an international forum convene to address the issues and response plans based upon known science. 


The groups concluded by stating their belief that trade with North America and the Asian market, based on science, is achievable during the month of July, and offering to meet with the government leaders to discuss the matters. 


Finally, NMA learned that President George Bush and Prime Minister Chrétien discussed the border issue in a telephone call for 30 minutes this morning. 




On July 2, 2003 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) released its “Narrative Background to Canada’s Assessment of and Response to the BSE Occurrence in Alberta.” View the complete report on the Web at: The narrative offers more history of the single case of BSE:


“On January 31, 2003, a beef cow (which had a previous unrevealed period of abnormal behavior) was found recumbent and unable to rise, was hoisted onto a truck and delivered to a provincially inspected abattoir in the Peace River District of Northern Alberta. On the movement manifest provincially required for transport, it was described only as a “black cow,” with no additional distinguishing natural or artificial features recorded. The inexperienced producer had not sought veterinary attention and shipped the animal in an attempt to salvage meat for personal use. The animal qualified for BSE surveillance under the active national program and its head was forwarded to the Province of Alberta for assessment and incineration. The carcass was condemned because of pneumonia. Under Canadian program requirements, any carcass destined for human consumption that is subjected to TSE testing must be held, pending reporting of the test results. Since the carcass was condemned and it was not allowed to enter the human food chain, the carcass was not held and was instead sent to rendering, where it entered into the animal feed chain. National surveillance initiatives, when aimed only at reconfirming what is already believed to be disease freedom, are ranked in priority second to other demands which may entail direct and immediate public health consequences. They also compete with the multiple other diagnostic urgencies which confront national and sub-national veterinary authorities engaged in active disease control programs. For that reason, it was not until May 16, 2003, that a tentative diagnosis of BSE was made at the sub-national level. Federal review followed immediately, with the Weybridge Central Veterinary Laboratory in the U.K. employed within 48 hours as the ultimate confirmation. The OIE General Session, then in progress, was notified immediately.


“The index case was of the Angus breed and a member of a herd of 80 cows established in the interval 2001–2002 from two streams of cattle. It is most probable, based on the investigation to June 24, 2003, that she was six years of age. Her expression of BSE at that advanced age offers the incident’s first epidemiological insight, that into the probable low level of BSE that she had contacted, based on dose-response incubation curves established in the U.K. for exposures as low as 1, 0.1 and, most recently, 0.01 grams of infected CNS material.


“The investigation respected the most recent recommendations coming from the OIE’s BSE Ad Hoc Working Group and buttressed them with a ‘precautionary perimeter’ of additional measures aimed at compensating for human nature, cattle identification limitations, and natural variability within BSE epidemiology. It followed parallel animal health and feed investigatory paths, with extensive and independent questioning of each producer by epidemiologists, field veterinarians, and feed experts.”


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Last Thursday, The Edmonton Journal reported that American cattle could be implicated in the single case of BSE found in Canada. According to the article, Claude Lavigne, principal spokesman of the CFIA, was quoted as saying, “If the right theory is that the animal got contaminated by eating contaminated feed, there’s as much chance that it came from the U.S. as it came from Canada.” Further, Tom Haney, president of the Canada Beef Export Federation, was quoted as saying (after reading the report), “We are in the same boat as the United States. Any further discussions south of the border, or anywhere else, about Canada representing a higher risk really becomes questionable.”


On a similar note, Cattle Buyers Weekly reported today that Canada’s single BSE-infected cow may have originated in the U.S. Citing the CFIA report (referenced in part on page 1 of Lean Trimmings), about 25,000 pregnant cows were imported into Canada from the U.S. and lost their identification along the way. They later became part of a Western Canadian cattle population. Seventy to eighty percent of these were black Angus, as was the index cow. Canada’s DNA investigations can’t exclude the possibility that the index cow came with the U.S. herd.




The New York Times reported Tuesday on the issue of dioxin, the airborne byproduct of numerous industrial processes and natural occurrences that exists throughout our environment. The National Academy of Sciences recommended in its report on the byproduct that the government should encourage women and girls to reduce the amount of meat, whole milk and other fatty foods to protect themselves and their offspring against dioxin’s adverse effects. An expert panel headed by Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, Associate Dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, and coincidentally, a member of the board of advisors for an anti-meat campaign called Meatless Monday (see the April 28, 2003 Herd on the Hill article “Meat Myths” for more information), said in the Times report that current test costs made it too expensive to measure the levels (of dioxin) in food. NCBA reports that dioxin can also be found in vegetables and vegetable oils, and tends to be deposited in fat and accumulate over time. Consumers concerned about dioxin can still partake in meat and dairy, but might want to consider low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat. The federal government continues to work toward greater advances in the reduction of dioxin emission, and monitors levels of dioxin in meat, poultry, dairy products, fish, animal feed and feed ingredients.




The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently began ground beef and other meat purchases for the upcoming school year - SY 03-04. These meat purchases are subject to revised specification and contractual requirements, and AMS is conducting a conference call on Tuesday, July 8, 2003 at 1:00 p.m. EDT to facilitate the transition. Call 877-960-7158 and enter pass code 587153# to participate. Contact Contracting Officer Duane Williams at 202-720-2650 or [email protected] for more information. See the May 5, May 12, and June 2, 2003 editions of Herd on the Hill for more information on the revised specification and requirements.




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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Domestic commercial espionage is alive and well!  NMA reported some months ago (Herd on the Hill March 31, 2003) that some members reported receiving calls purportedly conducting a survey of 500 plants for information regarding security measures.  The more suspicious members called NMA and we in turn alerted FSIS’s new homeland security program leaders.  We suggested that members receiving such inquiries direct them to FSIS’s Office of Food Security and Emergency Preparedness. 


At a recent FSIS constituency meeting, the subject came up again, and the chief of the Office reported that he had met with Bob Miller, reportedly the person responsible for initiating such calls, either by himself or by a cadre of college-student callers.  Reportedly, Mr. Miller runs a business designed to gather information for those who retain his services about others in the business through such telephone surveys.  Food Chemical News in its June 30 publication reported that this is a “perfectly legitimate firm that’s hired to collect information about competitors.”   FCN reported that Miller “apparently asked whether FSIS could use his firm’s services.”  Interestingly, NMA has never heard from Mr. Miller.


MC DONALD’S OBESITY LAWSUIT reported Thursday that lawyers for McDonald’s Corporation urged a federal judge in Manhattan, NY to dismiss a lawsuit blaming the food chain for obesity. U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet will decide whether to allow the suit, which now primarily focuses on deceptive advertising claims, to proceed. He had dismissed an earlier version of the suit in January and since allowed the plaintiffs to refile the complaint.


In the original claim, plaintiffs alleged that Chicken McNuggets, Filet-O-Fish, French fries and other menu items are so processed with additives and other ingredients that they can pose a health hazard unbeknown to consumers. The assertion of the re-filed lawsuit focuses on false advertising claims. McDonald’s lawyers say the claims are flawed. Brad Lerman, a lawyer for McDonald’s, reportedly told Judge Sweet that a major problem with the case is that the plaintiffs did not specify which ads they had seen and could not link advertising to any injuries. Lerman call attention to the fact that the plaintiffs were too young to have seen or be affected by the 1987 print ads attached as exhibits in the suit. “There are no allegations that the plaintiffs saw any of the material that was referenced,” Lerman said in the report.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a study last Wednesday that might help Mc Donald’s Corp.’s case. Todd Buchholz, former director of economic policy for the first Bush administration, authored the study. He found that cheaper food prices and an increasingly sedentary workforce are the primary contributors to obesity. He also found that fast food contains less fat now than in the 1970s and shouldn’t be the major scapegoat for the obesity epidemic. He noted that fast food has decreased the cost of protein, a major building block for the body. What’s more, the study relayed that portion sizes, and fat and calorie content haven’t increased any more in fast food restaurants than in most American homes. Additionally, he found that Americans’ trend towards increasing obesity began last century.


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.



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.




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.




AUGUST 20-23, 2003


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


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NMA is saddened to report the death of Don Hunt on June 27, 2003. Don was 62. Don had a lifelong career in the meat industry starting with Canada Packers. He was invested in the livestock industry, raising cattle, bison, purebred dogs and exotic birds. He was a kind, thoroughly nice man, courteous and considerate of workers and associates. He was the General Manager of NMA-member Agriprocessors in Postville, IA, a position that he had held for more than ten years. We extend to his wife Judy, his family, and his co-workers our deepest sympathies.




FSIS published a policy statement and request for comments in the Federal Register entitled, “Need to Complete New Registration Form and Importance of Compliance with Recordkeeping and Registration Requirements Under the Federal Meat and Poultry Products Inspection Regulations,” on June 25, 2003. 


FSIS intends to increase its enforcement of the registration and recordkeeping requirements to ensure that all businesses subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act and federal Poultry Products Inspection Act that are required to be registered with FSIS and/or to maintain business records are properly doing so. Further, by the notice, FSIS is also informing the public that the Agency has developed a new registration form. Because this form requires that registrants provide certain information that was not required on the previous form, all parties required to register, including those that are currently registered, must complete the new form and submit it to FSIS. Parties must submit the new registration form to FSIS by March 22, 2004. The new registration form will be available by December 22, 2003. When the new registration form becomes available, parties can access the form on the Web at:


Comments must be submitted by August 25, 2003. Submit one original and two copies of written comments to FSIS Docket Clerk, Docket No. 01-034N, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102, Cotton Annex, 300 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700. To obtain a copy of the new registration form, write to USDA, FSIS, Program Evaluation, Enforcement and Review (PEER), Evaluation and Enforcement Division (EED), 300 West End Court Building, 1255 22nd Street NW, Room 300, Washington, DC 20250-3700. View the policy statement and request for comments on the Web 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 7, 2003




Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien reportedly called his Japanese counterpart last Tuesday, seeking to persuade him that Canadian beef was safe to eat. The Toronto Star reported that Chrétien discussed all the government’s actions since the mad cow crisis erupted and the importance of basing decisions on scientific evidence and existing international standards. “It was a very friendly discussion,” Steven Hogue, a spokesperson for the prime minister, said of Chrétien’s talk with Japan’s Junichiro Koizumi, in the report. “It was a very good step forward.”


Hogue added that Koizumi confirmed that Japan’s agriculture minister would visit Canada on July 12 and “agreed to continue to work together in order to find a solution.”  Reportedly, senior Canadian officials have been trying to persuade Japanese bureaucrats to allow beef from North America back into their country. As reported last week in Herd on the Hill, the Japanese stance in this matter is crucial because it’s central to getting the U.S. border re-opened to Canadian beef, due to the integration of the North American cattle industry.


The Star further reported that reopening the U.S. border has become the main priority for the federal government of Canada, according to Claudio Valle of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. At a special Commons committee hearing last Monday, Valle said, “I think it’s the top issue of government right now, reopening the border,” Valle told the agriculture committee. Valle also told the committee that Ottawa sent a delegation headed by Dr. Brian Evans of the CFIA to Japan.


There are some in the U.S., however, who are in no hurry to re-open the border to Canadian ruminants. CNN reported last Wednesday that now, over a month after a lone case of mad cow disease turned up in Canada, cattle producers in the U.S. have been heartened by the lack of consumer backlash against their own beef. In fact, domestic livestock prices rose as a result of the U.S. border closing to Canadian imports. Choice boxed beef averaged $149 per hundredweight the first week in June, which is a record high, although prices weakened later in the month as more cattle went to market.


“I would say (mad cow) had very little effect, and I think the reason for that is the consumer is confident in our government’s inspection processes,” said Kansas Animal Health Commissioner George Teagarden in the CNN report. Indeed, Memorial Day weekend was solid in terms of beef sales, and the holiday weekend was just after the announcement of a single case of BSE in Canada. The faith of American consumers is well deserved, as U.S. officials have erred on the side of caution. “We have to wait until we get a final assessment of their tracing,” Teagarden reportedly said. “And try to determine exactly how this cow became infected and why and where - and make sure that is probably the only animal infected before we consider opening the border yet.”


Last Thursday, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled, “Changes in Fees for Federal Meat Grading and Certification Services.” Effective July 13, 2003, the rule revises the hourly fees charged for voluntary Federal meat grading and certification services performed by the Meat Grading and Certification (MGC) Branch. The hourly fees will be adjusted to reflect the increased cost of providing service, and to ensure that the Federal meat grading and certification program operates on a financially self-supporting basis. Visit the rule on the Web at:


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Agriculture Law reported last Monday that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has requested the General Accounting Office (GAO) investigate federal protections against the spread of bovine BSE. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Harkin in his request. Harkin asked the GAO to examine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement and oversight of a U.S. ban on feeding byproducts of ruminant animals to other ruminants, a practice linked with the spread of BSE. “The importance of a strong, science-based U.S. government prevention and response system must not be taken lightly,” Harkin said in the report. “We need to ensure the food safety systems we have in place to protect against BSE are effective. A feed ban on paper is not the same as a feed ban in action. Recent news reports of the occurrence of BSE in Canada prove that we are not immune to this risk in the U.S.”


In 1997 FDA instituted a nationwide ban of these ruminant-to-ruminant feeds, which specifically prohibits the byproducts of ruminants in feed for other similar animals, as did Canada. A 2002 GAO report requested by Harkin stated that the FDA rule was not being followed properly and raised concerns that these deficiencies could leave U.S. cattle at risk of BSE infection. The GAO report raised questions about FDA’s enforcement of the feeding rule and private sector compliance, and recommended that FDA develop strategies to ensure compliance with the law, for enforcement of penalties for those who violate it, and for better oversight of state enforcement systems and other tracking improvements.


Harkin requested the GAO determine whether FDA implemented any or all of the recommendations in GAO’s 2002 report; the extent of private sector compliance with the feed rule; the status of efforts to develop a quick test to determine the presence of ruminant tissue in cattle feed; and what, if any, additional steps FDA has taken or believes may be necessary to protect the U.S. cattle herd in the wake of the Canadian situation.




On Thursday, June 26, 2003, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing to review the mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) provision of the 2002 Farm Bill.  The USDA is in the process of writing a proposed rule to implement the Farm Bill’s requirements. The hearing focused on the feasibility of the law itself, if USDA is deliberately making compliance with the voluntary guidelines currently in place difficult, the benefits and consequences of the law to consumers, and whether the implementation of COOL is contrary to international trade laws. NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a copy of the Olsson, Frank and Weeda memo summarizing the hearing. NMA Government Relations Liaison Shawna Thomas provided written testimony on COOL to the House Agriculture Committee, as reported last week in Herd on the Hill. NMA members may contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533 for a copy of the testimony.


Several representatives expressed concerns about the impact and implementation of COOL. Rep. Max Burns (R-GA) asked when USDA anticipates the proposed rule being available, and Dr. Charles Lambert, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, answered that the plan is to release it in September, to be followed by a comment period and economic analysis.  Rep. Burns also asked when the rule would be finalized, and Dr. Lambert said the final rule should be released sometime next Spring. Dr. Lambert also commented that USDA is working to develop a high-tech, animal identification system. However, he also remarked that COOL and BSE prevention “are two completely different systems,” and that “there is no linkage.” Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also clarified that COOL is specifically a marketing program and not an animal health or food safety program. 


An amendment in support of COOL could be introduced when the full House convenes next month. Food Chemical News reported last Monday that Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) are likely to support full funding for COOL.