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

September 16, 2002




Based on National Safety Council (NSC) 1998 data, NMA reported accurately that the odds of dying from consuming food and poisonous plants to be 1 in 90+ million, in the September 3, 2002 Lean Trimmings. Kevin T. Fearn of the Research & Statistics Department of NSC informed NMA that this data applies only to deaths due to injury, namely an accident or external manner of injury. It is not applicable to deaths attributable to illness. In its September 9 release, STOP confused the issue claiming, “foodborne diseases are listed under bacterial and viral illnesses” when, in fact, no such category exists in the NSC data. NSC’s Mr. Fearn has told NMA that it doesn’t compile such data for its table, “Odds of Death Due to Injury.”


The real issue is food safety, an issue of the utmost concern to consumers, NMA, the meat industry, the government, STOP and organizations like it. Meat industry scientists and academia work continuously in concert with government on improvements to food safety to make meat safer. STOP could play an important role in helping to guide consumers to practice safe food handling habits. After all, consumers are the final step because they buy, store, and prepare meals. Consumers would be much better served if STOP would promote food safety practices.


NMA’s message is to promote food safety. As NMA concluded in the article that STOP is condemning: "It's time for a new perspective in which consumers see themselves as working with the meat industry to further food safety." The odds would be much better if we all work together.




Research from NPD Group (, a global market information company established in 1967 that services such clients as Dell, General Electric, Intel, Levi Strauss & Co., Mattel, Nike, Sony, Unilever, VF Corporation, Warner Brothers and many others, shows strong consumer confidence in beef safety. About two-thirds of NPD’s 600 online panel members surveyed reported that they intended to eat the same number of hamburgers as they had last year, according to a report in Nineteen percent of respondents said they planned to eat fewer hamburgers, down 1% from last year’s figure of 20%. NPD data showed that consumers planned to eat steak, hot dogs, and fast food burgers at normal summertime levels, as well.


The survey showed that 52% of respondents had a greater awareness of E. coli O157:H7 than they had before the ground beef recall of July. Concern about the pathogen rose 1% during the period of the ConAgra recall. A study released by the California Olive Industry earlier this month showed that consumers are also aware of safety and quality factors such as processing standards and proper packaging. Fifty-five percent of the respondents preferred food produced in the US.


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Neal Barnard, MD, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), called NMA last week objecting to an item in the August 26, 2002 Lean Trimmings that reported PCRM had been repeatedly censured by the American Medical Association (AMA).  NMA had reported what Michael Bernstein, Senior Vice President of Atkins Health and Medical Information Services, was quoted as saying about PCRM and censure in HealthScout News. Barnard told NMA: “censure proceedings are specifically outlined in the AMA bylaws and … this process has never been applied in any way to PCRM.”


It should be noted that, in 1992, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) printed a letter from Jerod Loeb, Ph.D., who was then the head of the AMA’s Council of Scientific Affairs, contesting Dr. Barnard’s insistence that he had never been the subject of an official censure by the AMA. According to Dr. Loeb, the AMA House of Delegates in June 1990 adopted a resolution that censured PCRM. The issue was reportedly the humane and responsible treatment of animals used in research that AMA supports. 




“[T]here is growing evidence that links prion diseases [such as BSE, CWD, scrapie, and vCJD] to disturbances of metal metabolism,” according to the Department of Biology and Biochemistry of the University of Bath, United Kingdom. An abstract published by the University this year states “brains from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients and brains from mice with experimental mouse scrapie have been shown to have changes in the levels of both copper and manganese.”


In 2000, a British farmer in Somerset, United Kingdom, Mark Purdey, argued that scientists had overlooked the root causes of BSE. In a paper published that year, Purdey intimated that the brain proteins, prions, whose alteration seems to be responsible for BSE are designed to protect the brain from the oxidizing properties of chemicals activated by dangerous agents such as ultraviolet light.  He suggested that when prion proteins are exposed to too little copper and too much manganese, the manganese replaces the copper that the prion normally binds to. The protein then becomes distorted and loses its functions. Purdey tracked the main clusters of vCJD in both Great Britain and Brittany, France to locations where there were deficiencies of copper and excesses of manganese, and high levels of ultraviolet light. Biochemists at Cambridge University found some corroborating evidence that same year. They found that when copper was substituted by manganese in prion proteins, the prions adopted the distinguishing features identifiable to the infective agent in BSE.




The Environmental Protection Agency is recognizing five meat processing companies for their “outstanding voluntary contributions to environmental protection” by participating in the Meat Processing Environmental Management System (EMS) Pilot project. Congratulations to NMA members – Advance Brands (Advance Food Company) and Farmland Foods, Inc., as well as Excel Corp., Humboldt Sausage Co., and West Liberty Foods. All have implemented a comprehensive EMS to reduce environmental impacts and increase operating efficiency while complementing needed regulatory controls. EMS allows an organization to “manage the environmental footprint of its entire operation,” including unregulated aspects such as energy, water use, climate change, odor, noise, dust, and habitat preservation. For more on EMS, visit


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Our Government Relations Liaison, Shawna Thomas, will be attending the Eastern Meat Packers Association’s annual Pennsylvania State University meeting at the end of this month. The Eastern Meat Packers Association is a private organization affiliated with the NMA.


The featured attraction of the two-day event is a mock Consumer Safety Officer review that will involve actual FSIS personnel. A CSO review is nothing new to many, but it will help the attendees and especially Ms. Thomas to see it enacted, so that at different points in the process questions can be asked and procedures can be explained.


The second day will greet the participants with lectures by Penn State professors such as H. Louis Moore, a Professor of Agricultural Economics whose specialties include agricultural marketing with a focus on livestock meat and grain marketing from farm to retail. Other Penn State professors that will be speaking are Catherine Cutter, an Assistant Professor of Food Science and William Henning a Professor of Animal Science, both housed within Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences. There will be discussion of what has been taking place at FSIS lately, the timely issue of bio-terrorism through the food supply and the program the government will be implementing to try to avoid this problem. For more information about the meeting, please call Ron Fouche at

(800) 282-6336.




Dr. Joe Blair won the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Public Service Award for his “outstanding contributions to the field of public health and regulatory veterinary medicine.” Dr. Blair has a distinguished 32-year-long public service career with USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Programs. Federal Veterinarian  reported “[he] has been instrumental in education [of] the meat and poultry industries about sanitation and food safety.”


Dr. Blair has served as assistant to the deputy administrator in the FSIS scientific sector, as well as Vice Chair and Chair of the US Animal Health Association’s Committee on Food Safety. His accomplishments include implementations of the 1967 Wholesome Meat Act and the 1968 Poultry Products Inspection Act in four states, helping to deplete hepatic residues in livestock in six states, reducing contamination of livestock from the mismanagement of toxic wastes by industrial chemical plants in southern Louisiana, cooperative development of public health and agricultural federal and state policies, and supervising the inspection field program and import and export services of meat and poultry. He headed a team that implemented a nationwide, computer-based, interagency information-sharing program. Dr. Blair is currently the executive vice president of the American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians (AAFHV) and the AVMA alternate delegate for the AAFHV. He is also a long-standing member of National Association of Federal Veterinarians (NAFV) and an Associate Consulting member of NMA. He is also associated with the HACCP Consulting Group. We congratulate him on this honor!


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NMA thanks our members and Associate Consulting member Dr. Carl Jolley who so graciously took time out of their very busy schedules to guide NMA’s newest staff members, Julie Ramsey and Roberto Escalante, through food inspection establishments last week. They experienced first hand the daily operations of slaughtering, boning, and grinding- operations that NMA deals with on a regular basis on the telephone. Dr. Jolley, who accompanied them, was a great source of information and pointed out many interesting details that would have otherwise escaped their attention. They were impressed by the strategies our members employed to keep their operation running smoothly and efficiently. “The members demonstrated to us how dedicated they were to food safety and the pride they and their employees took in the product,” said Ramsey. Escalante found that “it was very interesting to see how diverse and unique each establishment operation was.”



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

September 16, 2002




This is the essence of HACCP! Companies develop a HACCP plan, and then they execute the plan. It sounds simple enough, but it is increasingly evident that there are a lot of devils in the details.


NMA staff provides guidance and answer questions for NMA’s members, every hour of every day, about the details. Most often, the first question asked is: what does your HACCP plan state? If the plan provides for X, but the company has decided that Y works better and simply implemented it, but did not develop an amendment to the plan with appropriate validation support, then the company had better do some mea culpas and make the changes ASAP! If the plan provides for X, but the assigned USDA inspector requires it to do Y, then the company should discuss the matter with the inspector, and if it remains unresolved, appeal to the next level.


The relationship between assigned USDA officials and the industry managers and workers should be one of respect for each other’s responsibilities, and a common interest to ensure safe and wholesome meat that people, including them, will eat. The mark of inspection applied by USDA is a symbol that the livestock from which it came are fit to enter the food supply, have been subject to ante and post mortem inspection as required by the law, and that the meat food products have been produced in a plant that has been given authority by USDA to operate as long as it meets the requirements set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations. The mark of inspection is not a “seal of approval” per se despite some populist rhetoric. It is a mark that the meat is neither adulterated nor misbranded, under the law, at the time it leaves the plant where it was produced.


NMA is able to provide a copy of the report of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians (NAFV) Consultation with FSIS in June 2002. NAFV is the organization that represents federal veterinarians collectively with the various government agencies by whom they are employed. This particular commentary, prepared by Dr. Dale Boyle, NAFV Executive Director, is insightful about the management role and responsibilities of FSIS’s veterinary workforce that is critical to the mission of the agency. For a copy, please request from Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected].


Finally, we are showing, on page 2, a copy of the proposed reorganization of FSIS as of August 19. It is still subject to Departmental approval. However, it will help members to better understand the new lines of reporting and authority. Members should take specific note that Recall Management has been moved from OPHS to OFO, and that Compliance Officers are split between OFO and the new PEER. Associate Administrator Linda Swacina provided this to FSIS staff with a cover letter of further explanation. Members who would like a copy of that letter should contact Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected].


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