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

March 12, 2001




USDA filed March 7 its appeal brief in connection with the Texas Litigation which last year said that the Salmonella Performance Standard was not appropriately used as a measure of sanitation. USDA took the position in its filing that the lower court had erred and that in fact the Performance Standard was a measure of plant sanitation, because “accepting carcasses contaminated with Salmonella into a grinding plant necessarily affects the “sanitariness,” or healthfulness, of the conditions under which meat product is produced, packed, or held.” This argument says that a plant is responsible to control “incoming raw product” through “contractual specifications to ensure that they begin their process with product that meets the standard.” Never mind the fact that there is no contractual specification that can actually guarantee the elimination of microorganisms from meat – the only real guarantee, by the government’s own admission, is cooking. By this logic, grinders should not accept raw materials that haven’t been cooked and all meat is unsanitary until proven innocent. Supreme Beef is expected to file its own follow-up brief shortly. National Meat Association is again acting with other trade associations as an amicus to the suit and will respond also.




A final vote by the House of Representatives of 223 to 206, which followed a vote by the Senate of 56 to 44, marked not only the end to the controversial ergonomics regulatory program that was initiated last year after ten years of tinkering by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), but also the first time that the Congress has used its authority under the 1996 Congressional Review Act to nullify a federal regulation. Before the vote, the Bush administration formally threw its weight behind killing the rules. “These regulations would cost employers, large and small, billions of dollars annually while providing uncertain benefits,” the White House budget office said in a statement. National Meat Association was among the many trade groups which opposed the regulations.




The new Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) regulation is set to go into effect in 21 days; seventy-one firms will be required to report daily data about purchases via an electronic system at that time. USDA began some limited testing of the systems crucial to MPR’s success last month. Much of the data came through fine, but packers were unable to send the data via e-mail, because there systems were not set up to do this. Another problem was that USDA’s system would not accept data with any spaces in it because of a glitch in the software. Some data had to be corrected by calls from USDA to the submitting packers. None of the tests included real-time full reports, but were made up only of small preliminary samples of data, nor has USDA as yet secured its reporting site to guarantee confidentiality. Without comprehensive beta testing for both input and output, no one knows whether the system really works. The entire livestock and meat pricing structure is at risk when MPR replaces the voluntary system.


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TRACK 1 - February 19


Please fill out:


Interventions: Kill Floor & Beyond




Living with ZT for RTE Products




NMA: The Roadmap Ahead for Members




Importers Meet with U.S. Processors




TRACK 2 - February 20




Achieving Optimum Process Control




IDVs and Other Regulatory Compliance




Making Ergonomics Standards Work


Total Charge $


Case Ready With Partnerships


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TRACK 3 - February 21




Laboratory Technology


FAX TO NMA AT (510) 763-6186.


Inspector-Company Relations




Managing & Responding to Crises




Value Based Carcass Assessment




Tapes $25 each.





The discovery by the group Greenpeace of the biotech corn variety StarLink in Kellogg’s-made vegetarian corn dogs prompted the Associated Press to write the bizarre headline: “Tests find Unapproved Corn in Meat.” Corn in meat? Well, the corn was approved for livestock consumption.


Kellogg’s has commissioned its own tests of the corndogs and denied wrongdoing. Gene Grabowski of the Grocery Manufacturers of America pointed out that “strict segregation, 100% segregation [of biotech from not biotech products], is impossible with today’s food supply.” And the manufacturer of StarLink, Aventis, is now insisting that the corn is safe for humans, despite the presence of a possible allergen, and has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to approve the genetically engineered corn crop temporarily for food use to prevent further disruption in grain handling. Meanwhile, the USDA announced last week that it will pay up to $20 million this year, using the commodity purchase program, to compensate seed companies for a corn mix up that may have been caused, experts say, by StarLink pollen drifting inadvertently into other cornfields.


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U.S. consumer demand for red meat has risen 6.27% in the past two years. At the same time demand for chicken slipped 2.59%, according to the University of Missouri. The Wall Street Journal  reports that neither rising beef prices nor a slowing economy, nor even the BSE scare abroad, have dampened the comeback of beef in the U.S. The report goes on to say that Tyson has moved to buy IBP to escape “chicken fatigue,” the idea being consumers can only eat so much chicken in so many different ways before they start fantasizing about a juicy filet mignon. Plus nutritionists are more lenient about red meat today than 10 or 20 years ago, talking up an “anything in moderation” philosophy. However, an alternate view of the demand curve was offered in this week’s Cattle Buyers Weekly. Some analysts say demand is decent but it is starting to slip compared to a year ago and the market for the past two months has been largely supply-driven. Retail sales have been disappointing in terms of volume and total dollars for the last two months. The demand growth may have reached a plateau. However, the season of lent means appetite restraint until Easter for many.




A report on the use of microbiological testing in systems for assuring the safety of beef has been released by the International Journal of Food Microbiology. Based on a meeting arranged by the International Livestock Educational Foundation as part of the International Livestock Congress, February, 2000, the report was written with input by 11 invited participants from industry, academia and government research organizations. The participants concluded that testing is necessary for the implementation and maintenance of effective HACCP systems and that such testing must include the enumeration of indicator organisms rather than the detection of pathogens. This goes against the grain of USDA’s Performance Standards, which test for pathogens. The Salmonella Performance Standard failed to stand up in court in part because it was unscientific. Nevertheless, USDA has moved inexorably toward the implementation of another Performance Standard for Listeria.  The bottom line is food safety and microbiological criteria are better related to variables that can be measured at very low numbers, rather than attributes like pathogens. For a complete copy of “The Role of Microbiological Testing Systems for Assuring the Safety of Beef,” send a self-addressed, stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West and be sure to include the newsletter date with your request.


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National Provisioner, without quarrel the longest-lived of the industry magazines, purchased a small competitor, Meat Business magazine, last summer, proving that consolidation really is happening in all sectors of the industry: National Provisioner, which has reported on the meat industry at least since 1891, was referred to as “the poor man’s trade association” when it was itself a small news and information provider much in the same vein as Meat Business. Naturally, NP has grown and changed over time, showing in its way how the large were always once the small and that the small have opportunities to expand.


In its archives, NMA has saved a NP publication called “The ‘Significant Sixty’- 1891-1951,” which was published in 1952 as a "historical report on the progress and development of the meat packing industry." A great source of historical information, it even contains an ad for NMA’s predecessor organization, Western States Meat Packers Association (WSMPA) and its 6th annual convention and suppliers exposition in Los Angeles. We look forward to the next ‘significant sixties’ (1952-2012) being collected.




USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has established a contact office for companies that wish to produce official identification eartags and backtags for sheep and goats. This office will advise companies on production standards necessary for eartags and backtags to qualify as the official identification that is required for certain sheep and goats. Contact National Scrapie Program Coordinator Dr. Diane Sutton at (301) 734-6954.



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

March 12, 2001




There were more than 150 confirmed cases of food and mouth disease (FMD) in the United Kingdom by last week. The first was detected on February 20. Between February 21 and March 8 there were an average of 7 new cases of FMD a day. And 25 new cases were reported yesterday – the highest daily total so far. More than 114,000 animals have been destroyed, and another 30,000 are awaiting slaughter to keep the highly contagious animal disease from spreading further, the British Agriculture Ministry said. The Ministry also said that, although they do not know how many cases will continue to emerge, “it’s under control.”


Other countries were not so sure and have made every provision to guarantee the quarantine of the British Isles. There have been no confirmed cases in the rest of Europe, but a farm in northern Germany was sealed off Sunday after calves showed symptoms similar to those of FMD. The European Union’s Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) supports a European Commission proposal to extend until March 27 the British export moratorium and the ban on British beef. FMD is easily spread by afflicted animals or by carriers such as humans, horses and wild animals. It can also become airborne. While humans may spread FMD, it does not cause illness in people.


Britain's meat industry estimates a livestock export ban is costing it eight million pounds ($12 million) a week in lost sales. Tourism chiefs say their industry also faces a major blow if wide areas of the countryside stay off-limits.


In what was probably the first U.S. quarantine connected to the disease's outbreak last month in Britain, U.S. agricultural officials sealed containers of used farm equipment on March 9 in Mobile, Alabama. “We do not know where all these tractors, what farms they all come from, but it definitely came from an infected area,” Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bishop told a news conference. The equipment, part of a routine shipment headed for northern Mississippi was to have been disinfected over the weekend.


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Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) announced March 6 that he is calling for a moratorium on imports of livestock and beef. Although the Senator cites the outbreak of various bovine diseases in Europe as the reason for his call, it is more likely a response to the same constituent pressures that has led Daschle to champion Country of Origin labeling and other shortsighted solutions to producer woes.


In a statement, NCBA noted that two countries, Canada and Mexico, account for 100% of U.S. live cattle imports. These countries are free from BSE and FMD and both have restrictions on imports of meat and animals and on the feeding of animal-based proteins comparable to, or stricter than, the US. Furthermore, three countries, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, account for 87.4% of U.S. beef import tonnage. Australia and New Zealand are rated as less likely to have BSE than the U.S. or Canada because TSEs are not present in those countries. Canada, the US, Mexico and other Western Hemisphere countries are rated as very unlikely to have a case of BSE. None of these countries have FMD and all have restrictions on imports of meat and animals and on the feeding of animal-based proteins comparable to, or stricter than, the US. There is also a 50-mile wide animal free zone, known at the Darien Gap, maintained at the southern tip of Panama to ensure FMD is not transmitted from South American countries.




Montana is moving to legislate Country of Origin labels; State Senate Bill 196 requires retailers to post country of origin signs on grains, honey, beef, pork, poultry and lamb and processed products containing those ingredients. If a retailer is unable to determine the country of origin, the product must be labeled “country of origin unknown.” The Montana Department of Commerce is charged with developing rules to implement the Country of Origin Labeling Act.  The provisions of the bill would be operative January 1, 2002. Several groups have already opposed the bill, saying it would place considerable burdens and increased legal liability on Montana grocers and retailers. Opponents say that such legislation would cross onto federal jurisdiction and be unconstitutional. Perhaps most crucial, the provisions of SB 196 will create unnecessary and unfounded food safety concerns among consumers and raise the cost of thousands of food items sold at retail. NMA is part of a coalition opposing the bill.




The Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published notice of two public meetings to be held for the purpose of providing information and receiving public comments on agenda items that will be discussed at the 29th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL).  The public meetings are scheduled for Friday, March 16, 2001, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Wednesday, April 11, 2001, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Both meetings will be held in Room 1813, Federal Office Building 8, FDA, 200 C Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20204.  The 29th Session of the CCFL will be held in Ottawa, Canada, on April 30-May 4, 2001.


On March 6, 2001, a public meeting was sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in preparation for the second session of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Codex Task Force on Animal Feeding (Task Force) to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 19-21, 2001. Most of the meeting consisted of a discussion of the Task Force’s Revised Proposed Draft Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding (Draft Code).  Participants at the public meeting had a number of objections to the Draft Code. For an Olsson, Frank & Weeda summary of the Draft Code, send a self-addressed, stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West and be sure to include the newsletter date.