NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Jeremy Russell
October 8, 2001
The topic of most concern for the moment throughout the meat industry appears to be biosecurity, and not without reason. Not only has a second case of anthrax been discovered in Florida, but if anything or anyone did compromise the food supply for nefarious purposes, the consequences could be devastating not only for those directly affected by such acts, but also by proxy other companies producing in similar product categories. NMA has had an unprecedented wave of interest to its teleconference on this topic (see box), signaling that many are already aware of the potential for disaster and moving quickly to institute preventive strategies, as well as planning what to do in the event disaster strikes.
USDA Deputy Secretary Jim Moseley chaired a meeting last week at which leading USDA officials met with food industry association leaders, including NMA, regarding biosecurity. This was seen by USDA as only the opening round in what they hope will become a series of talks between industry and government, as well as an opening for ongoing dialogue. Moseley assured the attendees that the Department’s objective is to effectively address potential hazards and to reassure the public regarding food security matters. Not only has the Agency moved to address potential biological hazards at Plum Island and Ames, IA, but is beginning a more intensive assessment of vulnerabilities identified in the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Europe.
Newly appointed Under Secretary for Food Safety Elsa Murano reported that there are two principle efforts in which her office in engaged that address these dangers. The first is the Food Emergency Rapid Response and Evaluation Team (FERRET), a USDA working group that provides a vehicle for collaboration across USDA mission areas, and the Foodborne Outbreak Coordination Group (FORG), which Dr. Murano co-chairs and which provides an opportunity for various federal, state and local authorities to coordinate activities regarding foodborne disease outbreaks.
The Department is to be commended for its thoughtful, substantive approach to addressing biosecurity needs.
meat and poultry plants
Thursday, October, 11, 2001 @11:00 AM PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME11, 2001
The senseless and horrific acts of September 11 serve to remind us to be vigilant in our national defense at all levels. An important part of that defense is to protect the U.S. food supply.
While NMA does not anticipate any specific threats, we must act proactively. It is important to understand possible threats, their source, safeguards against them, and, most importantly, to know how to contain a situation in the event of an attack.
Join NMA on Thursday, October 11, 2001 at 11:00 AM PDT (2pm EST) for this one-hour Teleconference, learn how you can update your biosecurity systems, and protect your plant from acts of bioterrorism.
· Rosemary Mucklow, Executive Director, National Meat Association
· Jere Sullivan, Executive V.P. & Deputy General Manager, Public Affairs Crisis Communication, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide
· Daniel Puzo, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs Crisis Communication, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide
· Kent Walker, Coordinator for Consumer Product Safety, Kroll Associates
· Sharon Brooks, Olsson, Frank & Weeda
· Lou Gast, C.E.O., HACCP Consulting Group L.L.C.
· Fran Olivigni, Corporate QA/Manager, Schwan's, (Invited)
· Vince DeGrado, Corporate Director of Technical Service, Rosen Meat Group
· Mike Cramer, V.P. Food Safety and Quality Control, Specialty Brands, Inc
To participate, contact NMA for a fax-in registration form.
“The United States must take all necessary steps to safeguard our country against either intentional or unintentional introduction of costly and dangerous foreign animal diseases, which could devastate the U.S. livestock industry and threaten the nation's food supply,” said United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) president Dr. Bob Hillman. Accordingly the USAHA’s 105th annual meeting in Hershey, PA, November 1-8 will feature information on how to deal with the threat of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) or other foreign diseases should they enter this country – whether intentionally or unintentionally. Special emphasis will be placed on discussions relating to methods for proper disposal of infected and exposed carcasses. The British experience in handling disposal of animal carcasses resulting from the FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom will serve as a catalyst for these discussions.
Legendary basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson just got in the burger selling business. His company, Johnson Development Corp., has purchased the Southern California restaurant chain, Fatburger. “We’re going to make it a household name and let people know about this great hamburger they’ve never heard of,” said Johnson of his company’s plans to take the Fatburger franchise nationwide. An aggressive expansion plan is scheduled to begin soon, adding 100 stores in the next fives years. Incidentally, the ‘fat’ in the name has nothing to do with the content of the burgers, but is actually based on slang from 1952 when the chain opened. At that time ‘fat’ meant ‘successful’ as is a ‘fat cat.’ Perhaps they should rechristen it ‘Phatburger’ to reflect today’s sensibilities.
On the other end of the spectrum, Burger King announced a four-year marketing pact with movie studio DreamWorks, and expanded its marketing alliance with children’s cable network Nickelodeon. Clearly trying hard to steal some of the kids’ market from arch rival McDonald’s, Burger King will now focus less on pure toy giveaways and more on advertising the brand through the entertainment companies’ movies, magazines, television advertisements, sweepstakes and Internet websites. Meanwhile, Chris Clouser, Burger King’s chief global-marketing officer, who recently oversaw the chain’s second major recall of Kids Meal toys in less than two years, told the Wall Street Journal that the company is intent on offering “much better toys.”
BIOSECURITY IN THE FEED INDUSTRY
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) told Food Chemical News Daily that it has appointed a task force to identify possible biosecurity breaches and effective protection measures. The task force will focus on such areas as plant security, ingredient integrity and product integrity.
USDA is trying to track down 237 cattle imported from Japan, reports the Wall Street Journal. Naturally the Agency is worried about the recent discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Japan. The animals were brought in the U.S. between 1990 and 1999. It is unknown if any of them have been slaughtered. Fortunately, as all the cattle were Wagyu, which are only fed grain and fish meal, the chances of them having contracted BSE are very very low. The U.S. has banned further imports of beef from Japan.
Japan meanwhile continues to struggle with the damaged image of its beef industry. In a move that can only be described as desperate, Japanese officials held a special beef laden dinner to show the populace that they thought their beef was safe. Some 100 politicians gathered at a hastily arranged “beef party” to reassure the public. The event was met with public derision from Japanese consumer groups. “This kind of performance is laughable,” Hiroko Mizuhara, secretary-general of the Consumers Union of Japan told Reuters. “They are mocking consumers. What they need to do is take appropriate steps.”
The government responded on Friday with a directive sent to 170 industry associations that asks for but does not compel checks in food manufacturing for specific risk materials. Although the directive is not legally binding, the Agriculture Ministry has said it will post a list of companies that do not comply.
Elsewhere, Slovakia confirmed its first case of BSE, proving fears that the disease is still spreading in Europe. The results were verified by a German laboratory. More cattle in the same herd as the afflicted animal are to be slaughtered and tested.
Oxford University Press this year published a book titled “Meat-Eating and Human Evolution.” Edited by two anthropologists, one from the University of Southern California and the other from the University of Wisconsin, the text presents sixteen multidisciplinary essays that discuss when, how, and why early humans began to eat meat. New Scientists calls the collection, “A series of fascinating and scholarly essays, designed for students but accessible to the general reader, exploring issues such as whether hunting and meat consumption were the crucible of human intelligence or held society together.” Topics include meat-eating and the fossil record, living nonhuman analogs for meat-eating, modern human foragers, and theoretical considerations. The book (ISBN: 0195131398) retails for $70.
The California Beef Council (CBC) is seeking proposals from potential contractors based on a series of projects it wishes to fund. Program priorities include Foodservice Distribution Programs, Retail Marketing Partnerships, Ethnic Marketing Programs, Dietary Fat Information Distribution and ten others. CBC is asking potential contractors to submit no more than three pages outlining a project based on certain categories of description by November 5. For more information contact CBC Executive Director Bruce Berven at (925) 484-2333.
The Southwest Meat Association and American Meat Institute are hosting a workshop on “Implementing Listeria Intervention and Control” in Dallas, TX, December 5-6. USDA/FSIS will soon require plants producing Ready-to-Eat (RTE) products to implement an environmental testing program for Listeria. Given its unique ecology, Listeria must be controlled environmentally and not just on contact surfaces. This poses a unique set of difficulties (explored at length in NMA’s Guidelines for Environmental Testing/Sampling, available through NMAonline.org). SMA/AMI’s workshop is designed to help meat companies examine issues surrounding the development of procedures to process RTE under USDA’s soon-to-be-finalized rule.
British authorities revealed that one of the more unfortunate side-effects of the country’s Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak was the enriching of purveyors of bad meat, reported The Observer. Apparently criminals have used false documents to claim legitimacy for unfit meat. They make deliveries at weekends and at night to avoid health inspectors. There is evidence that the mass slaughter of animals due to FMD had led to an increase in such illegal activities passing unfit meat back into the food chain.
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
October 8, 2001
SUPREME SUBMITS POST ARGUMENT BRIEF
Attorneys for Supreme Beef Processors filed an unusual Post-Argument Submission last week with the Fifth Circuit panel which is considering USDA's appeal. The submission rebuts USDA's new allegation, first made at the Appeals Court hearing, that Salmonella is an indicator organism for other organisms including E. coli O157:H7. Supreme's brief makes it abundantly clear that USDA is not now and never has used Salmonella as such a proxy. According to USDA's rule-making record, “Based on the large body of written and oral comments FSIS has received on this issue, the Agency has decided not to use Salmonella both as a target for pathogen reduction and as an indicator of process control” (61 Fed. Reg. 68,837). Instead, FSIS adopted the routine testing of generic E. coli as an “ongoing, objective process control indicator for fecal contamination, and to establish performance criteria by which results can be evaluated.” In doing so, USDA implicitly and explicitly admitted that generic E. coli and not Salmonella is the best indicator organism or proxy. Instead the purpose of the Salmonella Standard was the reduction of Salmonella. Supreme's Post Hearing Submission is intended to set the record straight on this important point. For a copy of the brief, send a self-addressed, stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West and be sure to include the newsletter date with your request.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has scheduled a public hearing for October 30 in Kansas City, MO to solicit information and views on its current regulations prohibiting the feeding of ruminant-derived animal protein products to ruminants. FDA is requesting specific information regarding the adequacy of the current rule to help prevent the establishment and amplification of BSE in the U.S. cattle herd. FDA wishes to explore whether the present ban on the use of certain mammalian proteins in ruminant feed should be broadened. If so, what should the new parameters of use be and should the rule be broadened beyond ruminant feed mammalian protein.
“FREEDOM AND DIVERSITY”
The citizens who populate the United States of America are as diverse as the nationalities of the entire world. Both native born Americans and those from other parts of the world enjoy unparalleled freedom of religion and expression under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that the founders of this great nation, in their collective wisdom, assembled over two hundred years ago.
As a result, Americans are not stereo-typed individuals. They are men, women and children of the world who live within our borders. Predominantly, they are U. S. Citizens with the attendant rights to vote. We have a national immigration population, many of whom will become citizens over time. We have guests and visitors. America has consistently reached out to help the less fortunate. We have helped to build democracy in countries that were our adversaries in war. We have reached out to help feed and clothe starving populations in their darkest hours of need. America’s intervention in World War II assured new democratic options not merely for the winners but also for the losers. America’s success in the Cold War has opened up new freedoms for the oppressed.
America is uniquely poised with its huge, diverse population to help those now the victims of terrorists to overcome their adversaries and find the freedoms which Americans enjoy. Let us not make the mistake of marking as adversaries people who are legitimately in our country and are law-abiding members of our huge and diverse population. As our nation’s leaders work to partner with other nations in the war against terrorists, so we, the citizens of the United States, need to partner with people of other cultures and religions within our country on the home front.
CONSUMER ADVOCATES CALL FOR USDA TO POST Salmonella DATA ONLINE
Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) submitted a petition to USDA on October 1 asking the Agency to begin posting on its website the Salmonella test results for individual plants tested under Salmonella Performance Standard, reported Food Chemical News. “Posting individual plant results on the FSIS Web site may have the benefit of encouraging establishments to make improvements in their sanitation procedure since consumers would be less likely to purchase products made by those facilities that repeatedly exceed standards,” CSPI opined. The data that CSPI is requesting is already available by FOIA.
It is interesting to note that a study, Serotype distribution of Salmonella isolates from food animals after slaughter differs from that of isolates found in humans (Sarwari et al, in the J.Infectious Dis. 2001:183:1295-1299), was able to use a mathematical model to predict serotype distributions of Salmonella isolates among humans on the basis of serotypes recovered from meat and poultry. The source of those serotypes was data from the Salmonella performance standard data. This study makes it fairly clear that foodborne salmonellosis can be traced to foods other than raw muscle foods just as human salmonellosis can be transmitted by routes other than food. FSIS concluded: “In reality, we probably are dealing with a complex natural system in which certain serotypes are preferentially transmitted by specific raw food products, whereas others are derived from alternative sources. These complexities need to be considered when regulatory approaches to Salmonella species control are bieng developed.” NMA suggests that those who are of the opinion that more rigid regulatory rules for Salmonella need to be instituted exclusively on meat/poultry products read this paper and try to comprehend the complexity of the scientific management of this ubiquitous pathogen.
EPIDEMIOLOGY MEETING POSTPONED
The Public Meeting on Applied Epidemiology – A Public Health Tool to Inform Food Safety Inspection, scheduled for October 30-31 in Omaha, NE, has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts. FSIS is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other interested government agencies, and others scheduled to participate in the public meeting to find an alternate date. FSIS will notify constituents when the meeting has been rescheduled.
Fifty epidemiologists have reportedly joined the FBI in West Palm Beach, Florida to solve the Anthrax mystery. At this point the connection between the two cases and the September 11 hijackers is not known. It is known, however, that the terrorists were in the area, renting planes and asking questions about crop dusting.
EPA today issued a final rule revoking specific tolerances listed in the regulatory text for 67 meat, milk, poultry, and egg (MMPE) tolerances for residues of the organophosphate pesticides fenthion, methidathion, naled, phorate, and profenofos. EPA determined that there are no reasonable expectations of finite residues in or on meat, milk, poultry, or eggs for the aforementioned organophosphate pesticides and, therefore, these tolerances are not necessary. The Agency reports that feeding studies used exaggerated amounts of the compound (10x the dietary burden) and did not show measurable residues of the pesticides tested.
The House approved overwhelmingly a Farm Bill priced at $170 billion over 10 years. The vote defied a request by the White House to delay the bill, which contains protections for downed animals and mandates humane euthanasia for animals too weak from sickness or injury to stand or walk at stockyards, auctions, and other intermediate livestock markets. It also prevents animal fighting and ill or injured animals from being sent to slaughter. “The movement of these measures is an indicator of emerging public and congressional awareness and concern for farm animals and against animal fighting,” said Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president for the Humane Society. The bill also includes a Country of Origin labeling amendment.