NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Jeremy Russell
January 29, 2001
National Meat Associations 55th Annual Convention and MEATXPO’01 is almost upon us. Events will be held this year in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 18-21. Pursuant to Section 3.4 of the NMA by-laws, written notice of the association’s annual meeting is hereby given. Directors for the term beginning July 1, 2001 will be elected during the meeting on Wednesday, February 21, 2001. New officers who begin their positions July 1, 2001 will be introduced.
NMA has assembled an expert panel for this year’s General Session Luncheon meeting on Monday, February 19 to discuss how we fit microbiological testing into the meat and poultry regulatory system to make meat safer for consumers. Our group includes leading industry microbiologists, Dr. Ranzell Nickelson, Foodbrands America; Dr. Dell Allen, Excel Corp; Dr. Morris Potter, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; and Dr. Don Zink, Future Beef.
Also presenting, will be Dr. Winkler Weinberg. Weinberg, a medical doctor, is the Section Chief, Infectious Disease Service of the Southeast Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente, Cumberland Medical Offices. He served briefly as a scientific consultant to the Atlanta, GA White Water Park's owners after an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was traced to their facility. Recently the Washington Monthly published his article “Beef Wars.”
To keep the panelists focused on the real world, a journalist from the Los Angeles Times, Emily Green, will ask provocative questions. Green is known for having authored an editorial last August when the Democratic National Convention was in Los Angeles: “Just say No to ZT [zero tolerance], Al."
AMI will be holding a Worker Safety Conference March 11-14, 2001 at the Denver Marriott in Denver, Colorado. This Conference on worker safety, health and human resources will teach how to meet the mandate in the Occupational Safety & Health Association’s new ergonomic standard (see Herd on the Hill page 2). It was also teach how to enhance worker safety, reduce injury and illness rates, lower compensation costs and increase productivity through better safety management. The conference is designed for meat and poultry plant managers, safety and personnel specialists and supervisors with employee safety, health and human resources responsibilities. For more information, please contact the AMI Foundation at (703) 841-2400 or e-mail [email protected].
NATIONAL SUMMARY OF MEATS GRADED
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of December, 2000. For all quality graded beef, Choice was 56.6%, up slightly from 56.5% in November. Select was 40.0%, up from 39.2% the previous month. And Prime was 3.4% down from 4.2% in November. For a copy of the entire report which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed/stamped (34˘) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA.
A new state law went into effect on January 1, adding responsibilities and requirements for employers in addition to those contained in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The result of this law, according to the California Chamber of Commerce (CCC), will be an increased risk of lawsuits for employers. The changes include a redefining of the state definition of “disability.” A person is now considered “disabled” if he or she is “limited” in one of the major life activities – such as walking, performing manual tasks or thinking – instead of “substantially limited” as the federal law requires. The new law also changes the term “disability” to include any other health impairment that requires special education or related services, having a record or history of a disability that is known to the employer, and being regarded or treated by the employer as having some condition that has no disabling effect but may become a physical disability.
According to the CCC, California employers should remember that the new responsibilities come into play especially during the hiring process. Employers are no longer allowed to require any pre-employment medical or psychological examination of an applicant, or make inquiries regarding disabilities, unless the process is job-related and consistent with business necessity, and all job applicants are subject to the same requirements. In addition, employers are now required to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process to determine effective, reasonable accommodations under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) any time an employee or applicant with a known disability or medical condition requests a reasonable accommodation.
Two new studies found significant health benefits linked to diets containing a fatty acid called Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which is found naturally ruminant products, such as beef and milk. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released the a report on the studies, pointing out they were funded by the beef checkoff. Apparently CLA is useful in preventing precancerous lesions in mammary tissue in rats and atherogenesis in rabbits. “Consumers should be aware of where potentially beneficial dietary components are found in the food supply,” said David Kritchevsky, Ph.D., the author of the rabbit study.
Although the waiting period for federal regulatory review expired without action being taken by the Department of Justice, Tyson and IBP stopped proceedings of their proposed merger for now. Tyson said that Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC) questions about IBP’s accounting practices caused the delay. Although neither seemed to think the SEC review would ultimately get in the way of the deal, some Wall Street analysts weren’t so sure. IBP’s stock plunged almost 14% since the delay was announced.
The Wall Street Journal today reported that the SEC issued a comment letter to IBP on December 29 which raised dozens of questions about IBP financial statements. IBP did not tell Tyson about the letter until January 10. IBP submitted a response letter to the SEC on January 26. There is also an accounting problem at the IBP subsidy DFG Foods. According to a letter that IBP sent Tyson on January 25, “We have, this afternoon, in consultation with out auditors, completed our preliminary assessment, and management believes IBP will be required to take an additional reduction in pre-tax earnings of as much as $27 million.” It is far from clear what a business as small as the DFG unit, which generates annual revenue of about $80 million, could have been doing to warrant such a large charge.
Justin Mariani joined NMA as Regulatory Assistant. He will work with NMA Directory of Regulatory Issues Ken Mastracchio on managing and assisting members with USDA/FSIS activities. Since starting Mariani has already become acquainted with NMA’s strategies, databases, communications and protocols. Last week, he authored an NMA Fax Alert on the California energy crisis and what effect it has on HACCP. Before coming to NMA, Mariani completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Marketing at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. Mariani is available in the NMA-West office, making sure the regulatory needs of all NMA member firms are handled in timely, efficient and constructive manner.
Two major British food retailers have decided to become the first to provide a range of meat products from animals not fed with genetically modified (GM) feed. A poll by one of the retail chains revealed that of over 1,000 people surveyed, 64% said they would prefer to buy products from animals reared on a non-GM diet and 66% said it would be unfair to ask them to pay more. The environmental pressure group Greenpeace welcomed the decision, saying that it could have a profound impact on the international markets of soya and maize, the two main genetically engineered crops currently commercialized. “This marks the beginning of the end for GE (genetically engineered) ingredients in the food chain in Europe,” Lorenz Petersen, GE campaigner at Greenpeace, told Reuters.
It’s far from clear that that’s the case, but it may be that the recent StarLink corn debacle in the United States does spell a beginning of an end for GM here. Aventis CropScience, the designer of the by-now infamous StarLink corn, has agreed to pay an estimated $100 million to $1 billion in compensation to farmers and grain elevators across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported. The StarLink corn, which is not approved for human consumption, found it’s way into taco shells and other products causing a singularly massive food recall last year. One observer, Dr. Henry Miller, a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institute, who was responsible for biotechnology issues at the FDA from ‘79 to ‘94, recently told the New York Times that “food biotech is dead.”
This is an extreme position. GM ingredients appear in more than half of America’s grocery products. But the tide is slowly if inexorably turning against GE foods, and soon U.S. consumers may demand a range of no-GM fed meat as are their brethren abroad.
As of January 26 the AMS sampling program for commodity beef has tested 99,706,3107 pounds of ground beef from 16 vendors. Of the 1,114 tests performed, there were 9 failures for E. coli O157:H7 (a 0.81% failure rate) and 59 failures for Salmonella (a 5.29% failure rate). There were 38 failures of other microbial tests for a total of 106 failures and 7,657,236 pounds rejected.
O157:H7 is only the most hazardous of thousands of different strains of E. coli, most of which are benign. By comparing the genes of the harmful E. coli to a different, harmless strain, a group of genetic scientists hope to identify the specific genes that make us sick. “Before we began this project, there were only a handful of factors that were involved with this disease that were known,” said Nicole Perna, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. “The new genes that we’ve identified are a set of candidates to explain some of these things that we don't yet understand.” The researchers believe that these disease-causing genes are part of a “gene bank” that exists among bacteria. Frighteningly enough, these harmful genes may be withdrawn from the bank by different microorganisms, potentially causing the emergence of new diseases. Understanding this genetic jumble could one day help doctors in treating patients and allow meat packers to better detect E. coli in food processing plants, WTAE-TV's Marilyn Brooks reports.
NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION
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 29, 2001
INDUSTRY UNITES TO FIGHT BSE THREAT
The following statement was released jointly today by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Feed Industry Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Meat Institute, National Meat Association, National Renderers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, and the Grain and Feed Association to address efforts to prevent Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States.
As representatives of beef producers, feed manufacturers, renderers, processors and veterinarians, we reaffirm our commitment to effective enforcement of sound, science-based measures, such as import restriction, feed bans, and active surveillance, to prevent the BSE agent from entering the United States.
No cases of BSE have ever been found in the U.S. BSE regulations have a firm science basis. They reflect the wisdom of careful consideration and open debate. Surveillance and enforcement have been vigilant.
To prevent the preeminent health of the U.S. cattle herd, three components of BSE prevention should remain the highest priority of industry and government:
1. Strict enforcement of import restrictions designed to keep the BSE agent out of the U.S.,
2. Achieve 100% compliance with the FDA feed ban,
3. Continue support for the active BSE surveillance in the U.S.
We urge continued vigilance and commitment to BSE prevention in the U.S. We pledge to do our part.
This statement come on the heels of an economy-crushing panic in Europe, news reports across the nation on the risk to U.S. herds and the quarantine of more than a thousand head of cattle in Texas, because of mistakes at the feed manufacturer. Leading U.S. feed maker Purina Mills Inc., the source of the feed that led U.S. authorities to quarantine the cattle herd in Texas as a precaution to keep mad cow disease out of U.S. herds, said that it had stopped using ruminant meat and bone meal in feed as of January 26.
MANDATORY PRICE REPORTING DELAYED
USDA announced a new launch date for the livestock mandatory reporting program last week. The date has been bumped back to April second (it was supposed to start tomorrow). The Agricultural Marketing Service said it needed more time to test the electronic aspect of the new system. For more information contact John Van Dyke, Chief, Livestock and Grain Market News, AMS Livestock and Seed Program, at (202) 720-6231 or e-mail [email protected]. Van Dyke will be speaking at a Specialty Meeting during NMA’s 55th Annual Convention and MEATXPO’01, February 18-21, 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s controversial national ergonomics standard went into effect last week. However, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that there is still time before firms have to be in compliance. Business advocacy groups hope the standard will be modified under the Bush administration. Nevertheless, the rule will probably survive in some form or other. More information on the rule will be available at NMA’s 55th Annual Convention and MEATXPO’01 in Las Vegas, NV February 17-21, 2001. Don’t miss it.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its opinion January 17 in the National Joint Council's (NJC) challenge to the Food Safety and Inspection Service's (FSIS) HACCP-Inspection Models Project (HIMP). HIMP was modified after the previous court decision to include at least one FSIS inspector on each line to conduct the final inspection of each carcass and one “verification inspector” on each line to evaluate the establishment's inspection efforts. The District Court ruled that the current HIMP is consistent with the inspection acts. This decision was on remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The District Court also found that the modified HIMP was consistent with the Appeals Court ruling since it was FSIS inspectors who were personally inspecting each and every carcass and making the final decision on each. NJC will likely appeal.
Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy’s request for seven pardons and a commutation was granted by President Clinton before he left office. The first Clinton pardon came last month, when he spared Tyson Foods executive Archie Schaffer III from a one-year jail term. On his final day in office, Clinton pardoned six others and commuted the sentence of Espy's former chief of staff, Ronald Blackley. Three people who were pardoned had convictions involving gifts – Schaffer, former Tyson Foods lobbyist Jack L. Williams and lobbyist Richard Douglas. The cases of three others involved illegal campaign contributions to Espy's brother, Henry, who lost a congressional race in 1993. Pardoned were lobbyist James H. Lake, former New Orleans attorney Alvarez Ferrouillet Jr. and John Hemmingson, former head of a major crop insurance company. The final two were from Espy's home state of Mississippi – farmer Brook Keith Mitchell Sr., who pleaded guilty to wrongly collecting crop subsidies, and Blackley. Espy called the pardons, “a fitting ending.”
Federal District Court Judge Charles Kornmann January 25 issued a preliminary injunction against any further producer communications by the Cattlemen's Beef Board that are persuasive or political in nature, versus factual information intended to describe the activities of the CBB's programs. Livestock Marketing Association, along with the Western Organization of Resource Councils and three South Dakota producers, sought the injunction. In a suit filed December 29, they charged the CBB with using checkoff dollars to fund a public relations program clearly and illegally intended to shore up support for the beef checkoff.
FOOD CHEMICALS CODEX MONOGRAPHS
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published notice of an opportunity to comment on proposed new Food Chemicals Codex monographs, proposed changes to certain existing monographs, a proposed new general test procedure, and proposed changes to a policy. 66 Fed. Reg. 6624 (Jan. 22, 2001).
FDA is accepting written comments until March 8, 2001.