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

April 16, 2001




After 60 years of business, NMA General Member K&N Meats/Monte Vista decided last week to join the Alliant Foodservice family. K&N President & CEO, and NMA Director, Wayne Keener is enthusiastic about what Alliant will bring to the company. In a public statement, Keener stated that K&N had “found Alliant to be the company who will carry on the K&N tradition of the best products and best customer service and look forward to continuing the integrity that has made us all proud.” All K&N personnel plan to remain at the company.


“This union is a the perfect evolution of K&N’s integrity and customer focus with Alliant’s desire to be the most respected foodservice distribution company nationally,” said Frank Patton, president of Alliant Foodservice’s Western Division. “In this case, one plus one is much greater than two.” Alliant Foodservice, with total sales of more than $6 billion, is one of the largest privately held enterprises in the United States.




Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) went into its second week with as much confusion as its first, although USDA officials say the glitches are close to fixed. One of the USDA’s reports that confused users of the system was the ‘weekly weighted average direct slaughter cattle’ or 5 area. According to a description in Cattle Buyers Weekly, the 5 area showed 459,553 head sold for the week ended April 8. But USDA’s national negotiated report showed only 243,433 head while its formula and contract report showed 12,249 head sold. This doesn’t add up. Where’s the other 203,871 head?




Bernie Hansen president of NMA General Member Flint Hills Food and a Director of NMA, was presented the Richard L. Knowlton Innovation Award last week. Dick Knowlton, for whom the award is named, was on hand to present the award himself. Hansen was quoted in the as joking that “… to be honest, as a small meatpacker from a little town in Kansas, I thought at the time that the only way my name and Dick Knowlton's would be mentioned in the same sentence was if I were being sued by Hormel for non-payment.” The Knowlton Innovation Award celebrates those executives who strive to promote ingenuity.




USDA/APHIS apparently wants to increase its sampling level of bovine livestock for BSE. NMA and its slaughterer members have been invited to participate with AMI in a day-long meeting on the sampling Friday, April 20 at AMI’s offices in Arlington, VA.  NMA sent a memo to impacted members about this upcoming policy shift. Contact Jeremy Russell at NMA-West if you feel you should have received this communiqué and did not.




NMA and four other trade associations filed April 13 an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Supreme Beef Processors in the ongoing Texas Litigation. Look for a full account of the brief in next week’s Lean Trimmings.


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NMA is offering another excellent opportunity to get ahead of HACCP this Spring and the deadline is fast approaching. Accredited by the International HACCP Alliance, this “HACCP Development & Implementation Training for Meat & Poultry Plants” will be held April 26-28 in Denver, CO. Dr. Jeff Savell from Texas A&M University and Dr. Keith Belk from Colorado State University will act as team instructions for the seminar. At a cost of $775 ($875 for non-members), you can receive some of the best HACCP training available. The event will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, contact them at (303) 375-0400 and mention NMA to receive a special room rate. To register for this comprehensive three-day workshop, contact NMA at (510) 763-1533 today!




Researchers at Colorado State University’s Department of Animal Sciences, including NMA E. Floyd Forbes Award recipient Gary Smith, have received a U.S. patent for their design of a meat imaging system for palatability prediction; foreign patents are pending. They call their imaging system BeefCam™ and consider it a key element in bringing about long overdue improvements in predicting tenderness of pre-cooked beef. The  BeefCam™ system is able to evaluate many of the variables that are indicators of a tender carcass. The system takes a Computer Vision System (CVS) captured image and performs an analysis to extract features of the meat that are indicators of tenderness and palatability, primarily the color of the lean and fat. This way it actually supplements the USDA grades, providing consumers with a certified tender piece of meat. SmartMV is the exclusive licensee of BeefCam™ technology and has made the system available through its distribution partner, RMS Research Management Systems USA, Inc.




Ion Beam Applications (IBA), a Belgian company, announced that last week it received the approval of U.S. regulators to irradiate pet food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved irradiation for bagged complete dietes, packaged feed, feed ingredients and dog chews, as well as dry farm animal feeds, birdfeeds and fish food. “Irradiation of bulk feeds of cattle, swine and poultry may also reduce the transmission of bacteria to these animals and reduce the risk of contamination in the human food chain when people eat these products,” said IBA Food Safety Division President Pat Adams. Animal owners and handlers may also be better protected, as well.


The FDA final rule on animal feed irradiation provides that irradiated feed products should be formulated to account for nutritional loss. It also provides that if an irradiated feed ingredient if less than five percent of a final product, the product containing that ingredient may be irradiated without being considered to have been re-irradiated.


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The heroic performance of Captain Shane J. Osborne, a 26 year-old lieutenant from Norfolk, Nebraska and his crew of 24 men and women in landing their U.S. Navy surveillance plan on China’s Hainan island earlier this month is not only a praiseworthy example of our military’s preparedness, but a crisis role model for the rest of us! Now that they are safely returned and debriefed, our respect for these young military personnel overflows. In the face of danger, they knew what to do. And they did it. They landed the damaged plane against huge odds, while simultaneously destroying vital mission information before having to face unfriendly people on the ground.


We ask our NMA members if you are as ready for crisis in your business? Captain Osborn didn’t have time to check out the manual! Nor will you, but what you do in the first minutes and hours sets the course of crisis response. Captain Osborn made critical decisions in seconds and landed his plane, made sure that all internal activities were completed, and then he stood at the door to greet those waiting for him.


NMA has provided each of its General Members with a copy of The Key to Managing a Business Crisis. We were fortunate to have the expert assistance in developing it of Dan Puzo and Edelman Worldwide. Make sure that you know how to respond without having to check out the Manual and, that like Captain Osborn, your team is up to speed. And finally, remember that the President of the United States, just like the CEO at your firm, stayed out of the negotiations that secured the release, and kept his #1 overseer of the mission, the Secretary of Defense, out of the scene till the crew was safely home.


Any questions regarding The Key to Managing a Business Crisis can be directed to NMA Regulatory Assistant Justin Mariani at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected].




A federal judge found against employees of Pilgrim's Pride Corp. who had argued that putting on protective clothing, such as smocks, aprons, gloves and hairnets, was work-related and therefore compensable. The judge upheld pay by 'line time,' that is from the time the first carcass moves to the last carcass of the day. The ruling specifically excluded meatpackers, however. The judge wrote that in non-poultry plants the protective garb is "heavier and more cumbersome" than that of the poultry employees, and they wear other garb specific to their separate industry.


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Since USDA dropped its prior approval program for processing equipment, the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International has moved to fill the void with a program of voluntary certification, using ANSI/NSF/3-A Standard 14159-1-2000 covering materials, design, and construction requirements for meat and poultry processing equipment. But USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) also announced a user-fee-funded program on January 4. So there are now two rival programs. The standards used by AMS and NSF are not identical, writes Food Online, nor are they identical to the standards that had been used by FSIS. NSF is also attempting to supplant a program dropped by USDA in 1998 that listed approved proprietary substances and nonfood compounds that could be used in meat and poultry processing. The list covered such products as antifoaming agents, marking agents, and materials not intended for direct contact with food such as maintenance and cleaning chemicals, lubricants, and water treatment chemicals. However, an AMS spokesperson said the agency has performed “official evaluation  reviews” requested by five companies and covering 14 different pieces of equipment. Equipment would be eligible for certification and could carry the marketing claim of “United States Department of Agriculture Accepted Equipment,” the AMS announcement said.


NMA Remembers … Ernie Couly


Known as the "French Business Agent," Ernie Couly, formerly Secretary/CEO of Butchers Union, Local 115 in San Francisco, died in San Anselmo on March 23. He was 86. Enrie was a skillful negotiator and union representative during the turbulent 60s and 70s, but understood the need to balance the interests of his members with the efforts to assure that employers also survived. He was a San Francisco native. He loved his family and his retirement years were spent happily with his wife Jeannette, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.




USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of February, 2001. For all quality graded beef, Choice was 59.7%, up from 54.2% in January. Select was 36.5%, up from 35.0% the previous month. And Prime was 3.5% up from 3.3% in September. For a copy of the entire report which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed/stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA.



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

April 16, 2001




USDA is beefing up its Agriculture Quarantine Inspection (AQI) and other front-line defenses against the introduction of dangerous agricultural  diseases, especially Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is, according to the plan, to “improve point-of-entry inspection programs by providing additional inspectors, expanding canine teams and state-of-the-art-definition x-ray machines at high risk point-of-entry on the Canadian and Mexican borders, and in Hawaii.” Those expanding canine teams, no doubt, include the cute yet effective Beagle Brigade, which has been sniffing out agricultural contraband for years.


The FY 2002 budget provides $849 million in program funding for APHIS, up $174 million over 2001. The budget also strengthens the AQI service by requesting $13 million in additional program support.


To continue strengthening these important programs, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced the authorization of an additional $32 million to hire approximately 350 additional personnel at critical ports and international airports to protect against pests and diseases. This authorization of personnel includes 127 permanent officers and technicians, 27 canine officers, 173 temporary inspector positions and 20 veterinarians. These positions are over and above the levels indicated in the FY 2001 and FY 2002 budgets and will be financed from available revenues in the APHIS user fee account. This decision provides an additional $13.5 million in resources for FY 2001 and $18.6 million for FY 2002 for staffing.


We should be very pleased with such defenses, but the reaction of the livestock and meat industry will be the key if FMD ever slips past the firewall. Early detection was paramount to keeping the last U.S. outbreak (1929) from escalating to crisis levels (see Lean Trimmings 4/2/01), and it is widely agreed that the failure to detect the disease in Britain early enough was one of the major causes of the epidemic’s spread. Other factors that have to be considered in the ongoing European outbreak, as described in an article by Iain Murray, a senior analyst at the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), include “European Union (EU) hygiene rules over the last decade led to the closure of hundreds of local slaughterhouses, meaning that animal trucks drove to and from centralized facilities from all over the country, spreading the infection widely” and the fact that “the efficient methods of containing the disease recommended after the 1967 outbreak [in Britain] are now impossible to follow. Vets may no longer carry pistols for the quick slaughter of infected animals owing to the UK's strict gun control laws, meaning that the disease spreads further while animals wait to be euthanized by licensed authorities.” Murray concludes that in England at least, “The damage to farmers caused by the slaughter of uninfected animals may well outweigh the damage they would face from catching the disease.”


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Several meat and poultry organizations recently submitted a petition to USDA seeking a “uniform labeling compliance date” for new labeling regulations. The petition seeks a compliance date of January 2, 2004 for all regulations issued between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2002.  While NMA agreed with the concept of having one day a year when all changes that have been finalized are required to be implemented, it was ultimately unable to sign the petition. In explaining its rationale for not signing, NMA felt that the lead-in time was just too long, especially delaying until 2004 regulations promulgated earlier this year for added moisture declarations, where product picks up moisture during processing.




NMA filled its new position, Legislative Aide, with one of the most qualified and exuberant candidates in Washington, DC. Meredith Matty, a law student at George Mason University, started last month and joined in the Annual Board of Director’s Visit this month. We’re excited to say that this highly qualified young woman will help lead our lobbying efforts. Meredith not only has a background in Washington, working as an advisor to Congresswoman Sue Kelly on small business legislative issues, but also knows campaign issues as well, interacting with constituents as a representative of Congressman Bill Paxton. Acting as a liaison between NMA members and their national representatives, Meredith will be able to explain the temper of your business and the trials of the industry, and return with the details of legislation that will impact both.




The Senate passed April 5 the “Animal Disease Risk Assessment, Prevention, and Control Act (S.700),” a bill aimed at protecting the U.S. food supply, farmers, and ranchers from Bovine  Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). The act calls on USDA to send to Congress two reports: One report on the potential risks to consumers from these two diseases and other related diseases and a second report on the risks of the diseases for U.S. livestock. It also requires that USDA outline measures for reducing the risks of these diseases (see Lean Trimmings page 1 to see what measures are being discussed).




USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced it will hold a technical conference on May 8, in Washington, DC to discuss scientific research and new technologies relevant to the recently proposed regulatory requirements for processed meat and poultry products: "Performance Standards for the Production of Processed Meat and Poultry Products." FSIS is currently soliciting papers and presentations from government agencies, academia, consumer organizations, and other interested parties and has extended the comment period for 30 days. Comments now must be received by June 28.


Additionally, May 9 and 10, FSIS will hold a public meeting in Washington, DC, to provide information and receive public comments specific to the proposed regulations. To register for the public meeting, contact Mary Harris by telephone at (202) 690-6497, FAX to (202) 690-6500, or E-mail to [email protected].




The trans-Atlantic banana crisis is finally ended, U.S. officials having agreed that on July 1they will lift punitive tariffs in exchange for increased banana exports from Chiquita Brands International to the European Union. While no one would dispute the words of U.S. trade Representative Robert Zoellick, who said, “It’s obviously a good thing that the U.S. and EU [European Union] can show we can resolve these issues.” The meat industry continues to await a repeal of the long-standing ban on American beef by EU nations.