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 27, 2000




In the latest wrinkle of the Texas Litigation, USDA has tried to get the court to declare the case moot, which would undermine Supreme’s effort to force the replacement of the arbitrary and capricious Salmonella standard with one that would be fair and just. Supreme responded by filing comments that “the relief sought by the government clearly has dangerous consequences. In order to resurrect a regulation that has been set aside by a district court without any appellate consideration on the merits, the government need only drive the appellee out of business.” And NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow has now made a declaration to the court to support an amicus brief filed by NMA, the American Association of Meat Processors, North American Meat Processors Association, Southwest Meat Association and Southeastern Meat Association.


In her declaration, Mucklow comments on the type of testing that FSIS conducts in enforcing its standards in regards to E. coli O157:H7. Normally such testing is conducted randomly, on an annual basis. “However,” she wrote, “I was informed that after the [lower Court] issued its Memorandum Order preventing USDA from withdrawing inspection from NMA member Supreme Beef Processors, Inc. on the basis of its flawed Salmonella performance standards, Supreme Beef Processors, Inc. was subjected to consecutive daily testing for E. coli O157:H7. This was confirmed in the industry trade press. To my knowledge, USDA has never imposed such an open-ended E. coli O157:H7 testing requirement in the past.” She then noted the enormous and unprecedented changes that followed at the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which effectively robbed Supreme of its biggest customer. “It is my opinion, based on my over 40 years experience in the meat industry, that not one of NMA’s members could have survived in business if subjected to the foregoing regulatory actions undertaken by USDA.”  She concluded by stating the concern of many in this industry that “vacating the lower court’s decision will permit USDA to engage in the same course of conduct in the future against other” USDA-regulated firms.


The full declaration and amicus brief is available by sending  a self-addressed, stamped ($1.10) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West.




Animal Rights groups, always hungry for publicity, leveled their invective against Queen Elizabeth II after she was photographed killing a pheasant. Apparently, the animal was wounded by a shot during a royal hunting session and then retrieved alive by a hunting dog. Acting in what a Buckingham Palace press statement described as, “clearly the most effective and humane way of dispatching the injured bird,” Queen Elizabeth strangled the animal.




Dr. Gary Smith was honored by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) this month with its highest honor – the Distinguished Service Award. “If I had to pick one word to characterize Dr. Smith’s contribution to the industry,” USMEF Chairman Merlyn Carlson said, “that word would be passion.” Smith is a previous winner of NMA’s highest honor, the E. Floyd Forbes Award.


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 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade FEATURES USDA CHARACTERS


This year the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade featured some new hot air balloons from the Department of Agriculture. The characters Thermy, BAC, and Power Panther made their airy way along the New York City parade route. These walking characters were seen by two million spectators lining the parade route in New York City and more than 60 million viewers worldwide on television Thanksgiving morning. As you probably know BAC is the menace of the Fight BAC campaign, Thermy is a cartoon thermometer (“It’s safe to bite when the temperature is right”) and Power Panther is all about health and nutrition.




Aventis, the creator of Starlink corn said it has notified the three federal agencies involved in the recent StarLink-associated recalls – EPA, FDA and USDA – that it had confirmed the presence of the Cry9C protein in a variety of corn seed that was not sold under its StarLink trademark. Cry9C protein is a potential allergen and the reason that Starlink corn cannot be sold for human consumption. According to Aventis, the corn seed was produced by Iowa-based Garst Seed Company. Acting on complaints from farmers, Aventis confirmed suspicions when tests on corn with no known connection to StarLink tested positive for Cry9C, Food Chemical News Daily reported. Environmentalists say the discovery is likely due to cross-pollination or genetic drift.




A draft audit report of Canada’s meat inspection by a visiting team of EU veterinarians was obtained by the Canadian Health Coalition, a public interest group, which leaked it to the news media. The report recommended suspension of Canadian meat imports for fear of hormone and antibiotic contamination. Roy Christensen, press officer for the European Commission's delegation in Canada, cautioned that the report was only a draft, subject to revision following Health Canada's rebuttal. Even a final version will be subject to commission and possibly political approval, he said, casting doubt as to whether the recommendations would ever be carried out.




The San Mateo County Health Department will allow a Redwood City restaurant, Viva Mexico, linked with hundreds of cases of food poisoning to open its doors and get back to business, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The restaurant was shut down on October 24 by health inspectors acting on complaints received from the community. At last count, county officials identified 218 people believed to have become ill after eating at Viva Mexico in the days leading up to the closure. 61 cases of shigellosis were confirmed. One of those cases confirmed was a 53-year-old woman who later died, her death has been so far linked with the outbreak although that determination has not yet been made final. It is yet unknown how the Shigella got into the restaurant. Viva Mexico’s license is contingent on its completing several food safety training steps.


Restaurants in the East Bay also named Viva Mexico (but not related to the source of the outbreak) reported at least a 10% drop in business following the illnesses.


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An increase in the incidence of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in France has spurred the European Commission to add to its range of measures put in place to ensure a high level of public health and safety. A proposal to start even earlier the already-approved EU-wide testing program for sick animals and other measures, was submitted to the Beef Management Committee on November 17. The BSE rate in France has more than tripled in 2000, partly due to the introduction of targeted testing of cattle for BSE using an already required test method. Louis Orega, head of France's Meat Information Centre, was quoted as saying that scientific data showed the rate of mad cow disease in France was no higher than in neighboring countries like Italy or Germany, the only difference being that it had taken extra measures to detect new cases, further adding that, “France is therefore the country where there are proportionally the most cases. We are apparently giving the impression that France is more affected than other countries.”


Nevertheless, beef consumption in France has apparently fallen about 40%. Alarmed by the rising number of cases of mad cow disease or BSE, France has banned the sale of T-bone steaks and all animal feed made from meat-and-bone meal. French authorities tried to soothe consumers' fears about BSE, taking out a full-page newspaper advertisement under the headline, “Why you can eat beef without fear.” Many of these fears were created earlier this month by the arrest of a father and son who tried to sell a diseased cow for slaughter and succeeded in getting hundreds of pounds of suspect meat onto supermarket shelves.


European Union farm ministers, meeting to soothe consumer fears over mad cow disease in France, agreed on November 21 to test far more animals for BSE and said member state bans on French cattle must be judged by scientists. Following all-night negotiations, France failed in its bid to bring an end to the unilateral embargoes. Meanwhile, officials confirmed the first case of BSE in Germany yesterday. Leaders in Germany were blasted for their previous complacency about Germany’s disease-free status. “They made fools out of us with the long-winded promises that Germany is safe from BSE,” wrote the Berliner Morgenpost.


A new report published in New Scientist on November 15, revealed disturbing new evidence that suggest that three times as many people may be at risk from the human equivalent of BSE, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). The story says that so far all victims of vCJD have been from a minority of the population with a particular genetic make-up and, although this raised hopes that others were immune, new discoveries concerning related illnesses suggest that in fact it may pose a more serious threat to everyone exposed to the infectious agent. The research could indicate a 30 year incubation period. “We may well see [cases] well into the second half of the century,” said vCJD expert and British government advisor John Collinge of St. Mary’s Hospital in London.




Omaha Steaks, a mail order food service company, announced that it will switch to irradiation on its ground beef products to guard against harmful bacteria. It signed an agreement with Titan Corp. A voluntary recall by Omaha Steaks of about 11 tons of ground beef last month because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7 had no direct bearing on the decision to use irradiation, spokeswoman Sharon Bargas said.


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After halting production and recalling 600,000 lbs. of meat possibly contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 in July and August, Moyer Packing, known as Mopac, will resume production of ground beef next month. The company plans to use a new system of tough safety measures and additional testing for its suppliers.




Sysco announced that, to expand its specialty meat business, it would buy five specialty meat operations in Texas from Freedman Companies for an undisclosed sum. Freedman will retain the Freedman Distributors Inc. unit.



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 27, 2000




The meat industry will be impacted by the “midnight regulations” being poured forth by the Clinton administration before the January 20 inauguration of the new president. It is expected that the regulations to implement the Livestock Market Reporting Act of 1999 requiring mandatory price reporting by packers and processors will be put on display and published this week at the Federal Register. They reportedly cleared the Office of Management and Budget last week, despite concerns that they fell short of meeting the Administrative Procedure Act because they have so far failed to provide notice and comment about how the computerized technology would be implemented. 


NMA has been informed that, once the regulations are published, the Department will schedule a meeting to explain how the computerized technology and other features will be implemented. NMA will continue to keep its members informed.




·  Federal forest protections beefed up.

·  Background checks for federal bidders.

·  Mandatory labels for packaged meat.

·  National Organic Standard.

·  EPA controls for diesel vehicles.

·  Pesticide bans.

(source USA Today)




NMA received today a copy of a Notice being published this week in the Federal Register on “Residue Control in a HACCP Environment: Conceptual framework for program changes; notice of availability of documents and public meeting.” FSIS is inviting public participation in the effort to adapt its approach to the control of chemical residues in or on meat and poultry products to fit within the HACCP Final Rule. The meeting will be in Washington on December 11, 2000.


National Meat Association, in cooperation with other packer and producer organizations, has been engaged for the last fifteen months in an active working group effort to coordinate and improve the effectiveness of ensuring residue-free meat. Federal and state agencies have been cooperative with the working group. The subject was raised once again at the recent Meat and Poultry Advisory Committee meeting, when FSIS first indicated the upcoming meeting. This is a very complex issue, spanning the interests of government activity at many levels in the federal state structure, and across federal agencies. NMA has a keen interest in working cooperatively with the government agencies and cooperating with other organizations to assure that systems to provide for the wholesomeness of livestock products are appropriately and fairly applied at all levels, and that packers are not victimized as the most convenient focus for enforcement efforts.


In cooperation with other industry organizations, NMA will submit written comments in advance of the December 11 meeting. A copy of the FSIS notice will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, November 28. A copy can be accessed through the link on the NMA web page, or direct from the Register.


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In legal briefs filed November 14 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said that new FSIS policy changes for pathogen testing show that the agency is continuing to shift its required inspection duties onto industry, Food Chemical News Daily reports. AFGE pointed to the November 2 FSIS press release announcing change in Ready-to-Eat (RTE) testing policy. In the release, FSIS said that it is encouraging plants to test their own products. The union’s filing claims that FSIS is moving toward an industry-based inspection program that reaches far beyond the current HACCP-based inspection models project (HIMP) being tested in slaughter plants.




Effective November 22, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service amended the bovine tuberculosis regulations to recognize two separate zones with different tuberculosis risk classifications in the State of Texas. According to APHIS, this action is necessary to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and to further the progress of the domestic bovine tuberculosis eradication program. APHIS will consider comments on this Interim Rule received on or before January 22.




Dr. Catherine E. Woteki, Under Secretary for Food Safety, presented a keynote address at a food safety conference in Orlando, FL hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists. Her remarks, which detail her perspective on the recent history of USDA’s food safety efforts are available online at Among other things she says, “During my tenure as Under Secretary, I’ve also had the opportunity to see tangible improvements in the safety of the products USDA regulates – meat, poultry, and egg products. Data from Salmonella testing released since HACCP implementation began show that the prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products has decreased significantly. At the same time, data from CDC show a decline in the overall incidence of infections related to the major foodborne pathogens.”


Woteki also stated that “[USDA] records show that HACCP has had no effect on the viability of small and very small plants, despite initial concerns on industry’s part that these businesses couldn’t handle the challenge.” She did not state exactly how this effect was measured. NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow has previously asked her verbally for this data and has also written formally to FSIS Administrator Tom Billy.




In congressional testimony, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) revealed that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the opposite of what you might expect from reading the media portrayal of foodborne illnesses. The GAO stated that of the 7,000 cases of foodborne illness in which the source of the illness is known, CDC data say about only about 15% of the cases were caused by food regulated by FSIS (meat and poultry) 85% of the cases were caused by food regulated by FDA (everything else).


E. coli O157:H7 RECALLS


Two sizeable recalls last week for E. coli O157:H7. La Villa Latina Market voluntarily recalled all ground beef produced before November 20, after routine testing discovered the pathogen. H&H Meat Products, voluntarily recalled 58,000 lbs. of ground beef patties after E. coli O157:H7 was discovered by USDA testing. No illnesses were reported.