NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612
Edited by Jeremy Russell
November 5, 2001
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overseeing Supreme Beef Processors v. USDA granted NMA “leave to intervene as appellee” last week. The decision addresses the motion that was filed by NMA during the week prior to the oral argument in Austin, Texas. Previously, NMA and four other trade associations (SMA, SEMA, NAMP, and AAMP) acted as “friends of the court” or amici in support of Supreme Beef. The decision to make NMA an intervenor, obligates the Appellate Court to issue a complete substantive decision upholding or overturning the ruling of the District Court which is now on appeal.
The court’s decision on the merits of the appeal is expected before the end of the year.
Sponsored by the American Meat Science Association and National Meat Association, the 2002 Science Conference, held in conjunction with NMA’s annual convention, will focus on the latest scientific information surrounding “HACCP Plan and CCP Validation.” Topics include the FSIS Perspective on Regulatory HACCP Validation; Validation of Processes for the Prevention of growth Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Products, and Techniques for Validating Cooking, Cooling and Post Pasteurization CCPs; and Allergen Control. The Conference will be held concurrently with NMA’s 56th Annual Convention in Monterey, CA on February 20-23, 2002 (the science conference itself being held on February 20). There is a separate fee for this event.
Cattle Buyers Weekly reports today that two more new beef plants, both planning to process cows, are planned. One plant is planned in northern Mississippi and the other in central California; each will process 1,000 cows per day. These are the first new cow slaughter plants in at least 40 years. Other beef plants opening this year include, Future Beef Operations in Nebraska and Brawley Beef in California.
A slowing economy is creating on the one hand a cattle glut and on the other a drop in demand for beef. The month of October was a wild ride for cattle prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, while indications are that feedlots fell further behind at the same time. Public uncertainty and rapidly declining beef demand in the U.S. biggest overseas beef buyer, Japan, are combining to create what analysts are describing as “a very nervous market.” Japan was hit with BSE last month and, despite the best efforts of U.S. companies and groups such as USMEF, demand declined for all beef, not just Japanese domestic.
A December 12 deadline for the implementation of Mexico’s plan to end its inspection of U.S. meat imports on the U.S. side of the border is fast approaching with little prospect of a viable alternative. Mexican authorities have suggested placing their inspectors in U.S. plants, confining all imports to six border crossings or conducting inspections at Mexican processing plants, although none of these options seem practical. All three are being opposed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. It remains to be seen if Mexican importers can get the deadline extension they have requested.
A report by the Independent Bakers Association (IBA) notes that with a reported doubling of slotting charges in the last year, the supermarket industry posted its highest net profits in nearly 30 years. IBA is tracking two Federal studies focused on slotting. The first is a comprehensive review by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FTC Chairman Timothy Muris expressed confidence that the study may be completed by Spring, 2002. A second study of slotting and mergers is underway at the Government Accounting Office (GAO). This GAO study will complement a recently completed study of marketing practices by the Military Commissaries.
Meanwhile, IBA reports that four slotting and display allowance litigation cases are moving through the courts. In California and Texas, several regional tortilla manufacturers are suing two national brands for their role as “Category Captains” and the impact on smaller regional brands in retail stores. In Maine, magazine distributors are embroiled in a case about slotting payments. And the two remaining cases involve tobacco.
A U.K. report says that the number of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), thought to be the human equivalent of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), are likely to be far less than previously foretold. British scientists used a mathematical technique called back-calculation analysis, previously used to study the spread of HIV/AIDS, to predict the future incidence of vCJD. Based on the number of people currently infected and a guess about the incubation period of the disease, and restricting their calculations for the estimated 40% of the British who carry two copies of a gene sequence thought to predispose people to vCJD, they calculated that the total number of clinical cases would range from a few hundred to a few thousand. According to one of the scientists, “Even in the worst case scenario, there are never likely to be more than 100 cases of vCJD per year.”
The U.S. Animal Health Association (AHA) is holding its 105th Annual Meeting in Hershey, Pennsylvania this week. The goal of the Association’s various committees is to prevent, control and eliminate livestock diseases. AHA’s Food Safety Committee, chaired by Dr. Richard Breitmeyer and co-chaired by Dr. Bonnie Buntain, met on Sunday November 4. Dr. Breitmeyer, who is the Director of the State Veterinarian branch for the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Special Assistant to Secretary of Agriculture Anne Veneman, welcomed members and guests.
Dr. Robin Anderson and Dr. Scott Hurd both of USDA/ARS presented research updates on pre-harvest interventions and CCPs for Salmonella respectively. In addition, Dr. William Wagner, USDA, Cooperative Research and Dr. Don Hansen, AVMA Food Safety Advisory, presented research updates addressing food safety and educational services. Dr. William James, USDA, FSIS, OPHS, addressed residues, while Phyllis Sparling and Dr. Kristin Holt discussed epidemiology in food safety.
Dr. Breitmeyer presented for review a draft proposal for uniform animal production guidelines. NMA Board Director and Chairmen of the Beef Committee Jim Maxey reviewed an advance draft of the guidelines whose scope parallels the industry’s concerns regarding drug residues and ruminant feed.
Although several industry representatives presented their comments and responses to the national guidelines at the food safety committee, Maxey’s intention on behalf of NMA is to provide written comments directly to Dr. Breitmeyer at a later date. NMA’s Director of Regulatory Issues Ken Mastracchio attended the AHA meeting and will be working on these comments.
Although not likely related to the terrorist attack, cattle with anthrax in Santa Clara were detected last week. The disease killed 21 head in the worst outbreak of the illness in California in 17 years. Dr. Richard Breitmeyer was in charge of the investigation and declared that there was no apparent connection to terrorism. However, he said, “because of the heightened awareness, we contacted the FBI and transported the bacteria culture to them so they can have it to make sure it is our garden variety anthrax.” The dead animals have been buried and 120 others members of the herd were quarantined for 60 days. The living were also vaccinated. It appears that the herd, which was grazing, ingested the anthrax from the ground.
Representative Steve Largent (R-OK) has filed an irrevocable letter of resignation from the House, effective February 15. He will be pursuing the governorship of Oklahoma instead. His resignation triggers a special election, with a primary scheduled for December 11, a runoff (if needed) for January 8, and a general election February 12.
Consumer activist group Public Citizen, currently fighting irradiation on meat, announced it is opening an office in downtown Oakland. The irony is, the new office will be the ninth floor of the Cathedral Building, the exact location of National Meat Association’s previous office space.
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
November 5, 2001
As part of a $3.1 billion package of biosecurity measures, Senate Democrats added more than $700 million earmarked for new inspectors and other measures to protect farm and food from terrorist attacks to their economic stimulus plan. Furthermore, if the stimulus plan isn’t approved, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) says he will put the food inspection funding in a Defense Department spending bill. The proposal includes $636 million for USDA and $100 million for FDA. In a separate action, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) plans to introduce $250 million in food safety funds for FDA as part of an emergency supplemental appropriations bill.
USDA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report October 16 that was critical of the USDA’s internal preparedness for terrorist strikes. “With assets of $124 billion and an extensive range of critical missions related to public health, rural development and food safety, it is essential that USDA’s critical facilities and assets be identified and assessed for threats of attack,” Assistant Inspector General for Audit Richard Long wrote. While OIG conducted its audit months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, its findings about USDA plans to protect its facilities now provide a troubling backdrop to recent public comments the department has made about its security, reported Food Chemical News Daily on November 2.
It was announced November 1 that Smithfield Foods had entered into an agreement to purchase NMA member American Foods Group. When completed, the acquisition will give Smithfield around a 9% market share, placing it in the number four position in the beef industry. Carl Keuhne, owner and CEO of American Foods, called the sale a positive development and said, “It was a difficult decision to relinquish ownership of a company that our employees have built into an industry leader over the past 16 years, but I am pleased and excited that this transaction will provide the resources necessary to take the operations to a new level.” Smithfield adds American Foods Group to its previous recent beef industry buys, Packerland and Moyer. “We will take advantage of the significant synergies produced by the combination of American Foods, Packerland and Moyer to become a low-cost force in the beef industry,” said Joseph Luter III, chairman and CEO of Smithfield. Luter will give the keynote speech at NMA’s upcoming conference in Monterey, CA February 20-23, 2002.
NEW MEMBERS FOR OCT.
Gerber Foods, d.b.a. Just Foods
Sioux-Preme Packing Co.
Sioux Center, IA
Skinner Systems, Inc.
Clarks Summit, PA
Scientific Certification Systems
Langley, B.C., Canada
The National Turkey Federation announced that it was getting mail again at its Washington, DC office. Meanwhile, a central post office near NMA (in Alameda) was closed for a few hours recently due to the appearance of a white powder. The substance was not Anthrax.
FSIS has issued a directive to describe the Agency's In-Depth Verification (IDV) reviews. The directive explains how an IDV review team is formed, the procedures for performing targeted IDV reviews, the team's responsibilities, and the components and purpose of an IDV review. This directive also provides a specific set of procedures to be followed when IDV reviews are being performed because an establishment has failed two consecutive Salmonella performance standard sets. Access at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISDirectives/5500.1.pdf.
E. coli O157:H7 DRAFT RISK ASSESSMENT AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT
FSIS published a Notice in the Federal Register today, announcing the availability of and requests for public comment on the Agency's draft risk assessment for E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef. Comments are due by January 4, 2002. For a copy of the draft risk assessment, contact Annette Reid at 202-690-6409. For additional information, contact Dr. Eric Ebel at 970-490-7954.
NOTICE FOR CORRELATION TEAMS
FSIS released a Notice (online at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oppde/rdad/fsisnotices/42-01.htm) last week outlining the mission and duties of the Food Safety Systems Correlation (FSSC) teams. The Notice states that the purpose of the Teams is to ensure “food safety related inspection program activities are carried out in as consistent a manner as possible throughout the country. Although not the team’s focus, it will be inevitable that, at times, the team will identify trends in establishment approaches to regulatory requirements that are questionable and that need correlation. These types of findings will be considered in deciding what types of correlation and training should be provided to in-plant program personnel and, if they are interested, to establishments.”
RETAINED WATER GUIDELINES
FSIS published compliance
guidelines last week pertaining to the retained water final rule scheduled to be effective January 9, 2002.
(FSIS has received a petition to extend the effective date until August of 2004
and is taking comments on this petition.) The compliance guidelines
are designed to assist establishments in developing their data collection protocols, maintaining operational control of their process, and properly labeling the finished product. Access the guidelines at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/97-054F/compliance_guidelines.htm.
FSIS announced in the Federal Register on November 2 plans to amend the Federal meat inspection regulations to remove the standards of identity for “pizza with meat” and “pizza with sausage.” The Agency received a petition showing that the current pizza standards restrict the frozen pizza industry from developing and marketing products with reductions in constituents that may be of health concern to some consumers, such as cholesterol and saturated fat. For example, the current standard of identity for “Pizza with Sausage” requires that the product consist of a bread base with tomato sauce, cheese, and not less than 12% cooked sausage or 10% dry sausage. Comments on this proposal must be received on or before January 2, 2002.
LACTOFERRIN FDA O.K.
FDA has designated activated lactoferrin as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), meaning NMA member Farmland National Beef and DMV USA LLC will likely begin marketing their food safety technology very soon. The only hurdle which remains is USDA’s review, then the product will begin cutting pathogens on meat as another effective intervention.