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 Jeremy Russell

November 26, 2001




According to a report in the Seattle Times, farmers on the San Juan Island are close to making it possible for consumers to buy meat by the cut directly from Washington farmers, something which is currently illegal. The $150,000 project centers around a 26-foot long trailer, called a “mobile meat-processing unit,” that carries a fully modern slaughtering facility. The unit is intended for locally grown livestock from cattle to ostrich. The question remains as to whether or not the facility can obtain USDA inspection.


“I will be supportive of innovative ideas,” said USDA/FSIS District Manager Helmut Blume, who oversees the area from Salem, OR, “but I also need to look at the feasibility of it.”  According to Blume, “The facility itself would probably be a feasible thing to do, but the use of our inspector’s manpower is what gives me heartburn. Will he spend more time traveling than inspecting? I’m obliged to watch the taxpayer’s dollar.” The unit would likely require at least a semi-permanent location for proper inspection.


However, the project’s founders don’t seem overly concerned about this particular hurdle. “The biggest issue facing the [project] is having enough members and volume soon enough to make this self-sustaining,” said Bruce Dunlop a local sheep herder. Designed as a co-operative, the project would have to slaughter about 2,000 animals a year to pay for itself. So far money has come from government grants and private donations.


The idea has gained popularity, even national attention, as a means to thwart the forces of consolidation and vertical integration. “There is tremendous interest in supporting small farms,” commented Sandy Wood, executive director of the Lopez Community Land Trust, the developer of the project and owner of the mobile unit. Currently, farmers in Washington can choose to ship their animals to only about six firms offering USDA processing in the state, which forces the producer to make a long drive with his livestock. 


“People are already spending money for food,” said farmer Terry Swagerty. “What we have to do is align things so that people who raise food can sell it to our neighbors.”




Secretary Veneman wrote last week to Republican Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Thad Cochran (R-MI) in support of a farm bill they offered, but that the Senate Agriculture Committee rejected. Veneman said the Roberts-Cochran plan “demonstrates a strong commitment to agricultural producers, providing them with a simple program with a predictable support, which does not rely upon complex formulas.” Meanwhile, an editorial at the Washington Post harshly criticized Senate Democrats for defeating the Senate bill proposed by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), which, it says, provided a more reasonable amount for nutrition, shifted more money to conservation and allocated funds to farmers more equitably. Lugar is expected to offer his proposal again on the Senate floor.


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Last week Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported it found a second confirmed case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Japan through its on-going nationwide inspection of cows. This second case was found in a 67 month old female Holstein cow at a meat inspection center in Hokkaido, the northernmost island. Hokkaido is considered a hub for dairy in Japan. The news was on the front page of nearly every Japanese. Interestingly enough, despite the common wisdom that BSE is transferred via meat-and-bone meal, both animals’ owners say that they never gave the cows such feed.




It is with sadness that we report the death of Louise Willey of Brawley, California. Mrs. Willey was a leader in the cattle feeding business in the Imperial Valley, and served in various industry leadership positions at both the California and national levels. With her two sons, she ran Pasqual Land and Cattle Co. of Brawley. She was a leader at the former National Livestock & Meat Board and served as Chairman of the Livestock Research Committee. She also served as president of the California Cattle Feeders Assn. and as a member of the California State Board of Agriculture. NMA was honored to present her with its Good Citizen Award in 1987. We extend our deepest condolences to her sons, Al and Carson Kalin and their families.




While in Colorado for a meeting of the International Livestock Congress recently, NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow visited NMA member G&C Packing Co. in Colorado Springs for the express purpose of observing the “rinse and chill” technology. Under a licensed arrangement with MPSC, the vascular system is flushed with a chilled water-based solution immediately following stunning. This allows the vascular system of the carcass to be cleansed of blood and to give a kick-start to the chilling system. With controls in the flushing solution, acidity and other factors can be better managed. The flushing takes about 4 to 5 minutes depending on the size of the animal.


One of the most telling results is the tenderness of such items as the flat-iron steak from the shoulder. Rosemary said that steak for breakfast never tasted so good! Discriminating chefs have also found improved eating qualities of beef from this process, and have been able to increase their utilization of less popular cuts because of the tenderness. Look for more use of this system, especially in smaller plants with niche market capabilities.


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In a veritable histrionics of political posturing, the Consumer Federation of America, a long-time supporter of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, has threatened to withdraw that support if its demands are not met. What the Federation wants is the USDA’s Salmonella Standard, which was recently deemed unlawful in a Texas courtroom and awaits a decision from an appeals court, to be legitimized and enforced. Speaking to the other members of the National Advisory Committee for Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) November 14, Carol Tucker Foreman of the Federation said not only is HACCP support seriously threatened, but that she is unsure whether her organization would continue to allow her to participate on the advisory committee because industry members of that group oppose policies she says the committee recommended to USDA (for a report on the NACMPI meeting see Herd on the Hill page 2). Foreman also made remarks to the effect that her organization would never support mandatory across-the-board HACCP Inspection Models Project (HIMP) in young chicken plants, reported the National Chicken Council. She was also quoted in Food Chemical News Daily reported on November 15 as saying that support for the interstate shipment of state-inspected meat is “dead and won’t be resurrected.”




Twenty-four out of thirty isn’t bad. That’s what scientists are saying in a new cloning study released last week by the journal Science. The study, characterized as living proof that cloning can produce healthy adult animals, shows that 24 cloned cows at a cloning company called Advanced Cell Technology appeared to be “normal” and healthy. Six of the company’s cloned cattle died shortly after birth – a survival rate about equal to normal livestock. A subsidiary of the company, Cyagra LLC, says it has already entered into at least 60 contracts to deliver cloned cattle for about $25,000 each. However, there are still several hurdles to overcome.


First there is the voice of the critics who say that despite the positive findings, there is still a chance of subtle cellular defects. Other researchers have identified defects such as heart, immune and brain irregularities in cloned animals. “To say [the 24 cloned cows] are normal is not correct,” commented one such critic, Rudolf Jaenisch, a cloning expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute. “They are normal by the criteria they used. These criteria are very superficial.”


Regulations also need to be worked out. FDA has received several marketing applications for transgenic animals, from fast-growing fish to hypoallergenic house cats, but are moving ahead slowly and with great caution. Before regulators can fully respond, the ethical implications of cloning have to be examined, especially because of the implications of a successful animal cloning program might have on human cloning. “The conclusion will undoubtedly be drawn by human-cloning activists that it is safe to proceed,” comment Jaenisch. In fact, today scientists announced that they had succeeded in creating the world’s first cloned human embryos.


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National Meat Association is seeking a full-time Regulatory Assistant. The position requires an undergraduate degree in Animal/Meat Science or a related Agricultural Science; an AA degree may also be acceptable in conjunction with meat industry or animal production industry experience. Computer and communication skills are required. The Regulatory Assistant will work under the Director of Regulatory Issues, sharing responsibility for managing and assisting members with USDA/FSIS activities. This position fits a self-motivated individual who is willing to travel and work flexible hours, as well as being a team player capable of making sound decisions.




A recent recall of cheeses for possible Salmonella contamination highlights the differences in recall mentality between USDA and FDA. Although, FDA is in charge of the cheese recall, they have not yet announced it at their website. The company whose cheese is being pulled issued a statement to the public on November 23. This statement did not address volume or date it was manufactured, nor was it mentioned how the contamination was found.



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

November 26, 2001




The Microbiological Performance Standards for Meat and Poultry subcommittee of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods will meet in Washington, DC on December 4-6. The meetings are open to the public, but seating is limited. For more information, contact Brenda Halbrook at (202) 690-6600.




Barbara Cope, who has worked for USDA for 35 years, retired early this month. She came to Washington in 1964 and began working at USDA in the farm services agency of the time. She progressed through the upper mobility program, worked at Food Nutrition Service on food stamps, and eventually moved over to Agricultural Marketing Service where she was the Contracting Officer for the USDA’s school commodity program. Her final years were as an associate deputy administrator of the Livestock & Seed Program.


It’s hard to imagine AMS without Barbara! She is the quintessential professional who managed a complicated program through challenging times, and she always kept both her head and her grace in tact. Under her management, the program shifted to electronic purchasing and made other technological advances. As she leaves to spend more time with her husband and her grandson, we wish her many more years in well-earned retirement.




The following is excerpted from a consumer advisory provided by FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:


Consumers are the final judges of the safety of the food they buy. The essential step for their protection is to check whether the food package or can is intact before opening it. If it has been damaged, dented or opened prior to purchase, the contents should not be used. Consumers need to be alert also to abnormal odor, taste and appearance of a food item. If there is any doubt about its safety, don't eat it. If the food appears to have been tampered with, report it to one of the authorities listed below.


·        If the suspected food product does NOT contain meat or poultry--such as seafood, produce, or eggs – consumers should notify the FDA 24-hour emergency number at 301-443-1240 or call the consumer complaint coordinator at their nearest FDA District Office. (See list below.)

·        If the food product DOES contain meat or poultry, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555.


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NMA submitted comments last week on the proposed “Lamb Promotion, Research, & Information Order,” which would create a checkoff program for the lamb industry. NMA made it very clear that NMA believes that the terms of the proposed rule are unfair, discriminatory  and probably violate the Constitution.  If the Department chooses to move forward as proposed, at a minimum there should be an upfront referendum to obtain producer approval before the program is initiated. “We think it is totally inappropriate for the USDA to propose a rule that would redirect the processor funds through its check-off program, the more so when representation of the Board includes only two first handlers (processors) out of a total of 12 members, a disproportionate representation to the assessment revenue from this source,” wrote NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow. The complete comments are available online at or via e-mail from [email protected]. You may also send a self-addressed, stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West to obtain a copy; be sure to include the newsletter date with your request.




Beginning November 2001, the USDA/APHIS is requiring that certain classes of sheep and goats have PREMISE identification ear tags applied BEFORE they are moved from their farm to be sold in interstate commerce or commingled with sheep and goats from any other farms.




The 9-11 terrorist attacks have prompted some unanticipated support for merging federal food safety functions into a single agency, reported Food Chemical News Daily on November 21. President Bush’s Homeland Security chief, Tom Ridge, told reporters that the idea was certainly worth exploring. “We need to consider whether we want to have multiple organizations basically tasked with the same responsibility, or if we couldn’t enhance our security, improve our efficiency and maybe save a few bucks if we merged functions,” said Ridge.


Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), an avid supporter of consolidating food safety functions, said she was heartened by Ridge’s comments and the apparent willingness of the Bush administration to give the idea serious consideration, particularly in light of renewed concerns about bioterrorism and possible attacks on the food supply.




On November 14 and 15, 2001, the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) held its fall meeting in Washington, D.C. FSIS briefings were held on a variety of regulatory and legislative issues. Moreover, two issues were singled out for subcommittee discussions and recommendations: Retail Exemption and Modernizing Standards of Identity for Meat and Poultry Products. Margaret Glavin, the Acting FSIS Administrator and Chairwoman of the Committee, opened the meeting with remarks on the importance of the advisory committee to FSIS and the seriousness with which the agency takes the committee’s recommendations. Her remarks were followed by those of Dr. Elsa Murano, who serves as the Under Secretary for Food Safety. Dr. Murano spelled out the agency’s response to food bio-terrorism concerns since September 11. Briefings followed on the Food Emergency Rapid Response Evaluation Team (FERRET) and the newly established Food Bio-Security Action Team (F-BAT), as well as several other topics, for a full Olsson, Frank & Weeda summary, send a self-addressed, stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West or e-mail [email protected] and be sure to include the newsletter date with your request.