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

(510) 763-1533 Fax (510) 763-6186 h Email Address: [email protected] h

Lean Trimmings

Edited by Jeremy Russell

January 2, 2001




National Meat Association is excited to have you join us in celebrating the real new millenium year with Lean Trimmings and Herd on the Hill. We hope your new year’s resolution is to not miss an issue. Last year was exciting, everything from the Texas Litigation to the election debacle kept us as busy as we’ve ever been. But 2001 may well prove to be even more exciting!


Start the year off right by attending MEATXPO’01, February 18-21, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Last year we not only watched HACCP complete its growth cycle and begin churning down the tracks to the future, we also saw the birth of an unfair standard for Salmonella. NMA did not shirk from its duty. We stood up to the plate. With our assistance the Texas Litigation set a precedent against USDA’s wrongful application of micro-biological testing of meat to determine plant sanitation. This will be just one of the topics covered at our 55th Annual Convention.


Our keynote guest speaker R. Randolph Devening from Foodbrands America, will speak on a “Focus on Customers.” Don’t miss his informative talk.


Other specialty meetings and round tables include: Mandatory Price Reporting, Zero Tolerance for Ready-to-Eat Products, Process Control, IDVs, Ergonomics and many more. A full schedule is enclosed with speakers to date. Call NMA at 510-763-1533 to sign up today.




If it hasn’t arrived in your mailbox yet, you can expect the new NMA membership directory very soon. This year and once again NMA has enhanced the Directory with even more information. And for the first time ever NMA has renamed it “NMA Leaders of the Herd,” and will make it available to non-member meat companies on request. Once again, it is choc-full of information. Find out who the true industry leaders are. Get NMA’s Leaders of the Herd.




Make your reservations early to ensure your stay at our host hotel in Las Vegas, NV. The group rate special ($130) will end 1/26/01. Call the Rio Suite & Casino Resort at 888-746-7482 or 702-252-7777 and tell them you’re with NMA’s group. We look forward to seeing you next February 18-21, 2001.


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Aquaculture output, growing at 11% a year over the past decade, is the fastest growing sector of the world food economy. Climbing from 13 million tons produced in 1990 to 31 million tons in 1999, fish farming is poised to overtake cattle ranching as a food source by the end of this decade, Feedstuffs reports. According to the report the shift reflects a basic change in diet. Over the last century, the world relied heavily on two natural systems – oceanic fisheries and rangelands – to satisfy a growing demand for animal protein, but that era is ending as both systems are reaching their productive limits. Additional production of beef or seafood now depends on placing more cattle in feedlots or more fish in ponds. Cattle require some 7kg of grain to add 1kg of live weight and fish require less than 2kg of grain for the same gain. Fish are also, ironically, more water-efficient. These advantages have made fish farming the fastest growing protein production method especially in the developing nations.



According to a report in The Industry Standard, trade publications like National Hog Farmer or any of the magazines which serve the meat industry, are taking over the Internet. “By marrying compelling content with product information and putting it on the web, trade publishers are transforming themselves online into business-to-business (B2B) exchanges.” Visit the publications linked through and you’re likely to see this happening.




Australian Dehydration Technologies Pty Ltd (ADT), a small technology company in Australia, announced that it has developed a new process that has the capacity to remove Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) during the resource recovery of animal wastes. The method utilizes known and accepted biochemical theory supported by practical application, internationally published data and academic certification for the resource recovery and co-product production of a wide range of animal wastes and offals to produce protein meals. These meals have been proven to have high digestabilities (some >98%) with proven bacterial and viral sterility along with theoretical sterility of Transmittable Degenerative Encephalopathies (TDE) including BSE. According to the company's press statement, the technology is ready for global commercialization.




According to an article by NMA E. Floyd Forbes award recipient and animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin published in Meat & Poultry magazine, slaughter plant employees need to learn how to determine if an animal is properly stunned and insensible on the bleed rail. Many people, both inside and outside the meat industry, do not know how to do this. The signs of a properly stunned animal may include kicking legs, but the head and neck must be loose and floppy like a rag. Some spasms are normal, but the neck should relax within about 20 seconds. The tongue should hang out and be straight and limp. The tongue should not be curled. When the animal is hung on the rail, its head should hang straight down, and the back must be straight. It must not have an arched back, righting reflex. The eyes should be wide open with a blank stare. The animal must never blink or have an eye reflex in response to touch. Rhythmic breathing must be absent. Gasping is a sign of a dying brain and is OK. Insensibility is questionable if the eyes are rolled back or they are vibrating. The tail should relax and hang down. There should be no reponse to a nose pinch. There should be no vocalization, no moo, no bellow, no squeal. Recently, writes Grandin, insensibility has become a controversial subject, because three undercover videos of stunning practices have made the news. One plant was revealed to have serious problems with its animal welfare practices.


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Total sales of the nation’s 50 largest grocery suppliers reached $75.8 billion in 1999, down slightly from 1998, reported Dairy-Deli-Bake Digest in its December issue. The top 10, which accounted for 69% of the total sales, posted a growth of 5% according to a survey by Food Logistics published in the Food Institute Report. The top 10 grocery wholesalers:


(in millions)                                         Latest FY                    Previous FY                      % Change

Supervalue, Inc.                                    $12,269                       $11,108                                10.5

Fleming Cos.                                        $10,900                       $11,500                                -5.2

C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc.               $7,101                         $6,050                                  17.4

Nash Finch Co.                                    $4,123                         $4,160                                  -0.9

Wakefern Food Co.                             $3,950                         $3,100                                  27.4

Associated Western Grocers                $3,370                         $3,180                                  6.0

United Western Grocers                       $3,000                         n/a                                        

Giant Eagle Co.                                    $2,700                         $2,700                                  0.0

Roundy’s Inc.                                       $2,610                         $2,512                                  3.9

Penn Traffic Co.                                   $2,484                         $2,828                                  -12.2


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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently made the use of a new health claim in labeling available to eligible foods. The new claim states: “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.” Foods eligible to bear the claim generally must contain at least 350 mg of potassium per referrence amount customarily consumed (RACC), 140 mg or less of sodium per RACC, 3 g or less of total fat per RACC, less than 1 g of saturated fatty acids per RACC, not more than 15% of calories from saturated fatty acids and 20 mg or less of cholesterol per RACC.



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

January 2, 2001




As the year 2000 rolled into 2001, Tyson Foods, Inc. revised its offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of IBP in a cash tender offer, stock exchange offer and merger valued at $4.7 billion and beat out an offer from Smithfield Foods.  The Tyson offer translates into $30.00 for each share of IBP common stock, with 50.1% of the consideration in cash and the remainder in Tyson Class A common stock.  In conjunction with entering into the agreement with Tyson, IBP terminated its merger agreement made 3 months ago with Rawhide Holdings Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, in which IBP shareholders would have received $22.25 per share in cash.  DLJ will receive a break-up fee of $59 million, plus expenses.


Tyson Foods held a conference call this morning and its principals responded to questions, mostly from the investment community.  There was much said about the good synergy for the poultry giant and the beef giant to marry.  John Tyson said that it was a unique opportunity for his company, and that he was looking out 3-4 years at appreciation over the long term. 


Tyson also said it was responding to a second request from the Department of Justice in response to its antitrust filing in accordance with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. Completion of the deal is expected in the first quarter of 2001.




Before President-elect George W. Bush announced the selection of Ann Veneman as Secretary of Agriculture (see Lean Trimmings 12/23/00), she spoke earlier in the month at the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Conference, focusing this year on Agriculture in an E-Commerce World.  Ms Veneman covered technological efficiencies which have not only changed crop yields, but also the very nature of crops, and the use of natural resources and global production methods.  She highlighted the immediacy and scope of mankind’s knowledge.  Before 1900, it took 150 years to double all human knowledge.  It is estimated that by 2023, it will take only 78 days. She said there is new opportunity for universities to train specialists to interpret Internet information for application to special producer/seller interests.  Such information is a tremendous asset, if it is accessed and not avoided.  More information is available at


Timothy Egan, writing in the New York Times on December 24, gave a more jaundiced view of life on the farm, saying: “Perhaps never in the history of a nation founded by agrarian self-starters has the federal government propped up rural America to such a degree.”  He cites $28 billion in direct payments, accounting for half of all the money made by farmers, and that in eight states, government assistance made up 100 percent of all farm income. According to some of the thoughtful farmers, the institutionalized bailouts strengthen a culture of dependency…” Outgoing Ag Secretary Glickman says that the “government’s role in requiring the farmer to do something in return has been largely eliminated by Congress.”


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NMA’s Director of Regulatory Issues, Ken Mastracchio, and his staff advise many members daily about responding to NRs. Ken points out in a new NMA Resource available to members that, technically, a plant owner doesn’t have to furnish a written reply to an NR, but that in the absence of doing so, a reply will be entered in by the assigned FSIS inspector.  There’s a lot of good basic guidance in the Resource for members to use in developing a response, which is usually advantageous to the company’s best interests.  To obtain a copy of NR Responses, please send a stamped (33c)/ addressed envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West.




The hydrodyne system of meat tenderization may also make it safer to eat, according to USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Apparently hydrodynamic pressure, in which meat in a container of water is tenderized by the detonation of a small amount of explosives that create a shock wave in the water, may also kill microorganisms. The shock wave tenderizes the meat by severing the stringy striations that can make meat tough. While the process was initially used to tenderize meat, new studies have found that it also reduces food-borne pathogens, said ARS Administrator Floyd Horn.




The Kansas City based Livestock Marketing Association filed suit in the federal district court in Pierre, SD on December 29, 2000 asking the Court to order Ag Secretary Dan Glickman to immediately conduct a referendum on the beef checkoff.  LMA was joined by Western Organization of Resource Councils and individual South Dakota producers.  LMA says that of the 18,700 beef or dairy producers in the state, 8,545 signed a referendum petition that was delivered to USDA in November 1999.with a total of nearly 146,000 signatures.  LMA says that the unconscionable delay in scheduling a vote violates both the Constitution and the federal Administrative Procedure Act.  It also claims that the complicated and flawed validation process is deliberately designed to eliminate the need to consider the petition and made a decision on the referendum.  They are also challenging the “producer communication” program, run for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, claiming it is “simply feel-good, pro-checkoff propaganda which is not authorized by the law and is unconstitutional to boot.  For the full text of pleadings filed by LMA, go to LMA’s website:




The Grain Inspection Packers & Stockyards Agency of USDA issued its Annual Report in mid-December.  The Report teems with information and data, and opens the door to the agency’s web site with even more data.  For a copy of the Report, call GIPSA’s Communications Office at 202-720-4998 or take it off the web at