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

May 7, 2001




The AMS staff, including Deputy Administrator Barry Carpenter and his various branch chiefs, detailed planned changes to the commodity purchase program and discussed metal detection, analytical work on fat, etc, at the well-attended USDA/AMS vendor conference in Kansas City May 3. They reviewed the audit process, which is designed along ISO 10011 principles, and identifies all non-conformance in writing in the exit interview, in contrast to the IDV reviews at FSIS. The ground beef product specifications, implemented at the direction of former Secretary Glickman just days before the last buying season, were a priority issue for many attendees, but AMS would only say it hopes to bring interested parties together in the near future.


The specs severely limited USDA’s ground beef purchases this past year, and eliminated ground turkey and pork. USDA has paid about 40% more for the product. Schools needing these products have made purchases from the commercial market to avoid the added costs. Gary Gay, President of American Commodity Distribution Association, explained at the meeting what a “nightmare” it was for state distributors when they didn’t have enough ground beef. He pointed out: “ground beef drives the school menu!” He noted schools prefer VPP patties, receive extensive food safety training and would just like to go back to the specifications that were in place two years ago.


Les Johnson, Director, Food Distribution at USDA/FNS, noted the trend in schools toward cooked processed product and toward working on menu items that address child obesity and the shortage of school food prep staff. He also noted immigrant populations’ impact on menus. A copy of the chart showing all product bought in the school year 2000-2001 is available, send a self-addressed, stamped (34¢) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West and be sure to include the newsletter date with your request.


NOTE: Make sure that you’ve updated the NMA e-mail address. Our old address, [email protected], no longer functions: Please send all messages to [email protected].


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A comprehensive review of the literature on the effects of chronological age, slaughter weight, and gender on lamb has revealed the industry must produce and market younger and leaner lambs if it is to maintain and expand its market share. Released by Agricultre and Agri-Food Canada, the research concludes that to achieve this goal it will be necessary to be cognizant of the interactions existing between biological type, chronological age, slaughter weight and gender in the utilization of genetics and nutritional regimes, to produce lambs with maximum consumer appeal, and to market lambs between 3 and 12 months of age with slaughter weights between 59 and 68 kg. Effective classification of carcasses for both quality and yield will also substantially augment the effort.


These results dovetail with critics’ concerns about the trajectory of the U.S. lamb industry towards bigger older animals and may explain the popularity of the smaller younger animals from Australia and New Zealand. Of course, a 201 Trade Action has created stiff quotas against those imports and pumped $100 million into the American lamb industry for product promotion.


The American Sheep Industry Association's (ASI) American Lamb Council officially launched its $1.8 million U.S. lamb promotional campaign at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) annual conference and information fair held in Minneapolis, MN, April 25-27. The American Lamb Council was the recipient of one of 23 grants awarded by USDA to promote and market American lamb. The grants are part of the U.S. government's three-year industry assistance package resulting from the International Trade Commission case on lamb imports.


It was announced last week that the U.S. had lost a World Trade Organization (WTO) appeal on the legality of the import restrictions against lamb from Australia and New Zealand. The WTO had ruled in December that the U.S. tariff-quota violated international trade rules, a decision the U.S. appealed in February. The WTO's appellate body issued a decision May 1, rejecting the appeal. ASI's international trade counsel called the WTO decision “simply wrong” and vowed to take the matter to the president, prompting the Australian National Farmers Federation to issue a statement saying: “President Bush and his lackeys have to deliver on their free trade rhetoric because Australian farmers are fed up with being unfairly treated.”




NMA will host a 1-hour teleconference on Incentive Programs June 5 at 9:00am. Attendees will get answers from experts in the field of workplace issues on their most important asset: employees. Contact NMA for registration information.


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IGEN announced that two separate studies, one conducted by USDA and the other by researchers at Norpath Laboratories Ltd., concluded that  IGEN International Inc.'s proprietary ORIGEN technology was more sensitive than the so-called “dipstick” test commonly used to screen food for E. coli O157:H7. The USDA study “demonstrated conclusively” that IGEN's technology is “more sensitive and reliable” than the dipstick test, the USDA researchers report in the current issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology.  The Norpath study found IGEN's test was up to 100 times more sensitive than the other four methods.  The Norpath investigators presented their results in February at a scientific conference organized by the Irish government to discuss harmful E. coli in food.




On the heels of lackluster first-quarter earnings and with shares trading low, McDonald’s Corp. has found itself the target of angry vegetarians, including two Hindus, who claim that the company deceived them by “fraudulently concealing the existence of beef in their french fries.” McDonald’s does not deny that it puts a small amount of beef extract in its fries, an ingredient noted as ‘natural flavors,’ and says it never “made any claims of vegetarianism with our french fries or any other product.” In 1990, McDonald’s announced that it was cooking its fries in 100% vegetable oil, the company points out that isn’t the same thing as saying it’s 100% vegetarian, reported the Wall Street Journal.




USDA said it may ease the ban on meat imports from the European Union as early as this week to allow imports from countries that have not been hit with FMD. Belgium Farm Minister Jaak Gabriels told Reuters after meeting with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman that the U.S. was close to making a decision on its ban. Veneman “is waiting on information from the European Commission,” Gabriels said. “Based on this information, she will take measures immediately. She is ready to do it.” But Friday, Veneman told Reuters: “Despite what the Belgian minister said yesterday, I discussed no timetable with him. We were very surprised to read that.”


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The Mexican government announced that it was requiring all beef importers in Mexico to register with the Mexican Treasury Department, Hacienda, by May 30. The U.S. Meat Export Federation is recommending that all exporters to Mexico contact their importers in Mexico and encourage them to register immediately with Hacienda to avoid disruptions in trade.




Watt Publishing Co. and Vance Food Systems Group will co-sponsor a summit on Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) spotlighting critical information on FMD, lessons to be learned from other countries, prevention and control in the USA and FMD’s economic impacts, including export trade. Called the "Summit on FMD," the event will bring together an international panel of experts to advise top animal producers, practicing veterinarians, animal industry suppliers and other professionals involved in pork, beef and dairy production. Cost: $260 if payment is received by May 21, 2001; after May 21, registration will increase to $285. Registration includes a luncheon, two coffee breaks and the printed proceedings. Groups of three or more registrants are eligible for a 10% discount. Details are available at




ABC Research Corporation announced it began using a new test April 23 developed at Colorado State University that can detect minute quantities of central nervous system tissue (CNST) in raw and cooked meats. These materials are considered as being of specific risk for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Since no current method exists to detect BSE, the CNST test is considered a next best. Companies using this test will be able to sell more product to a market that has become increasingly wary of possible contaminants in meats, especially beef and pork. 




As part of its release of a new Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) on food allergens FDA is putting the food industry on notice that practices which may result in the presence of traces of an undeclared allergen in a finished food (e.g., the use of common equipment for dairy and non-dairy products) may render food adulterated. The CPG addresses the eight most common food allergens: peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustacea, tree nuts, and wheat.



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

May 7, 2001




NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow attended a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) meeting in Riverdale, MD last week on preparations to prevent Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) from entering the United States. The meeting included many organizational representatives, including auction market persons, milk producers, veterinary organizations (bovine practitioners, specialized vets, etc.), specialized interests including wildlife and zoo representatives, and state officials including many state veterinarians. “I am very impressed with the thoughtful, inclusive efforts of the USDA, bringing to the discussion table many disparate organizations and groups at every level,” commented Mucklow. “A truly coordinated response would be needed to manage an unlikely outbreak, and it is my view that the U.S. is well prepared and that USDA will lead such a response in a highly professional manner.”


Several states have indicated that they will have a dry run of an outbreak to test their preparedness, but the actual determination that we have a case of FMD would be made by USDA/APHIS officials at Plum Island under the immediate oversight of Dr. Alfonse Torres, Deputy Administrator at APHIS. APHIS scientists at Plum Island routinely look at several hundred possibilities every year, but to date none have been confirmed as FMD. If there is an FMD outbreak and a packer is slaughtering in the immediate zone (10 kilometer radius) it is likely that packer would be shut down until “safety corridors” could be established. Product shipment might be permitted if records can show that it was from a time prior to the outbreak.


A proposed rule for indemnification is in preparation. Under present law the Secretary may, in an emergency, provide for the payment of fair market value for livestock to control or any other associated costs – and it is believed that such costs could be considered to include costs to kill, decontamination, and inventory that has to be destroyed.  There is, however, no authority for indemnification for “lost opportunity.”


It was noted at the meeting that FMD virus is not viable below a pH of 6.0 or above 11.0. It does not generally survive in the muscle of meat, but it does survive in bone marrow and lymph nodes. 


NMA will host a FMD teleconference, which will include Dr. Torres, on Wednesday, May 16, at 8 a.m. PDT.  If you are interested in signing up to be on this teleconference, please fax your name, company, phone and fax to (510) 763-6186. Members are invited to FAX or email questions for the May 16 teleconference, to be provided ahead of time to Dr. Torres.



At the USDA/APHIS meeting in Riverdale, MD last week, a number of documents were available and are of interest to members developing preparation plans for an FMD outbreak. Copies are available from the NMA office.  They include:


Veterinary Services Memorandum No. 580.4:  Procedures for Investigating a Suspected Foreign Animal Disease/Emerging Disease Incident (FAD/EDI). May 9, 2001 (revised) (15 pages). This document replaces a former policy memo dated March 5, 1997.


National Emergency Response to a Highly Contagious Animal Disease. Executive Summary March 30, 2001  (14 pages). Includes a Concept of Operations, Movement Control Guidelines, and FMD Operational Guidelines.


More Detailed Information on USDA Restrictions on Products from Countries with FMD. (2 pages)


Foot & Mouth Disease pages 47-50 from USDA Red Book (draft) dated October 18, 1998. Currently being updated.


SOPs. One page summary of Vet Services Memo 580.4. 

SOPs  One page summary of Declaration of Emergency or Extraordinary Emergency

SOPs. One page summary of National Emergency Response, concept of Operations


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Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ranking Minority member of the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, speaking at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) Food Policy Conference May 1, emphasized that he believes the FDA Commissioner and USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety appointees must have public health credentials to be approved. He also said the USDA needs microbiological standards as part of its HACCP regulation and that he supported USDA's appeal of the Texas Litigation decision. However, he said he is looking for a compromise on Salmonella. He still plans to call for a single food safety agency and mandatory recall and civil fine authority.




USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced plans to issue service contracts in the near term for the processing of its pork into such items as cooked sliced pork with barbecue sauce, breaded patties and ground dippers. All products will be processed from USDA-owned, frozen pork legs that were prepared in accordance with Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications. AMS will issue invitations to processors who have completed samples and submitted appropriate documents, as well as submitted to pre-award audits and the like. Direct any procedural questions to Nancy Hubbell or Sue Olson of the Commodity Procurement Branch at (202) 720-2650.




USDA/FSIS issued a correction to the final rule on “Retained Water in Raw Meat and Poultry Products; Poultry Chilling Requirements,” which amends FSIS regulations by limiting the amount of water retained in raw, single-ingredient meat and poultry products (implementation in 2002). In the original published rule, FSIS made some inadvertent errors in the amended regulatory text and in corresponding preamble references. One such error mistakenly removed the zero tolerance regulation, which prevents poultry with fecal contamination from entering the chiller. Under the new correction, the zero tolerance regulation will remain in effect.


Also, the Agency issued a backgrounder on the final rule. Access the backgrounder at the FSIS website (linked from or directly at the following web address




USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a proposal to add Germany, Italy, and Spain to the list of regions where Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) exists because the disease has been detected in native-born animals in those regions. Currently, these countries are listed as presenting an undue risk of introducing BSE into the United States. The effect of this action is a continued restriction on the importation of ruminants and meat, meat products, and certain other products of ruminants.




FSIS has made available draft compliance guidelines for the recently proposed regulations regarding Ready-to-Eat (RTE) products. These draft guidelines are being posted for the purpose of public comment and can be accessed at the FSIS website (linked from or go directly to



Access the 1999 Report of the Secretary of Agriculture to the U.S. Congress on Meat, Poultry and Egg Products Inspection at