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

August 28, 2000


Every year at our Convention and MEATXPO events, NMA invites interns from several different colleges to come and help out. This mutually beneficial relationship allows us to put together truly excellent events and collate information afterwards. It allows the interns to make contacts and become acquainted with the industry. In many cases, these young interns return to work with us the following year. Sometimes, after they've graduated they get jobs with NMA member firms and return to the convention as participants. Lynn Delmore of Golden State Foods is just one example of an intern who has now become a regular participant on our Round Tables.

On August 11, previous intern Tim Linquist, wrote to say that after graduating from California Polytechnic State University in June, he has gone to work for Simplot Meat Products. "The reason that I am writing this letter was to personally thank you for the opportunity to attend the NMA annual meeting. The experience proved to be very informative and at the same time I was able to make some contacts in the industry that aided me in my job search. I just started work at Simplot Meat Products in Nampa, Idaho on the seventh of August. My job title is Management Trainee," wrote Linquist.

Through our internship program and the NMA Scholarship Foundation (, National Meat Association tries to help train, educate and recognize future industry representatives. Linquist's letter was an exciting reminder of why we make such efforts.


The upcoming NMA HACCP Training, scheduled for September 21-23 in Los Angeles, CA, will feature FSIS Alameda District Office Inspection/HACCP Coordinator Frank Gillis. As the luncheon speaker, Gillis will present on the In-Depth Verification (IDV) Review Audits. IDV reviews determine the adequacy of the HACCP plans and system, as well as the SSOP program, in meeting regulatory requirements and technical/scientific expectations. IDVs may be conducted by multidisciplinary teams and involve experts from various parts of the agency like the Technical Service Center, headquarters, field laboratories and district offices. Other speakers at this training will include Lou Gast and Mickey McEvers of the HACCP Consulting Group, L.L.C. To sign up contact the NMA office at (510) 763-1533 today!


In a filing last week with federal regulators, Smithfield disclosed it had acquired 6.6 million IBP shares (a 6.3% interest), valued at about $112 million based on the current stock price. The acquisition makes Smithfield the third-largest stakeholder in IBP. The National Farmers Union asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Smithfield had violated any anti-trust laws and whether it should be required to divest some of its assets and take other actions to restore competition. Jerry Hostetter, a spokesman for Smithfield, said the company's purchase of IBP shares would have no effect on competition in the pork processing industry.

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The European Union (EU) Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) published on August 1 its final opinion on the geographical risk associated with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). In countries where BSE is already found, the report states that the geographical risk of BSE has tended to stabilize or decrease since 1994 or 1996. The SSC report also states that BSE is unlikely, but cannot be excluded in the U.S. and Canada (no case of BSE has ever been found in the U.S.). Furthermore, geographical risk is not an indicator of a risk to humans, but rather a qualitative indicator of the risk that live cattle could be infected with the BSE-agent. The text of the report is available at

A study, carried out by scientists at the Institute for Animal Health in Berkshire, England, and published in the journal Nature, found no evidence of an increase in scrapie during the country's BSE epidemic. Mike Gravenor, one of the report's authors, was quoted as telling Reuters, "What we were interested in was...was there a large increase in this kind of disease during that time (of the BSE outbreak)? What we essentially find is a very similar disease called scrapie didnąt change in incidence during the time of the BSE epidemic. Before the importance of BSE in cows was recognized, a lot of infected cattle were recycled in animal feed and some was fed to sheep. It is possible that sparked something new in the sheep population, but we found no evidence of that." They also were cited as finding farms raising sheep and cattle were no more likely to have scrapie, and no regional correlation between scrapie and BSE cases. Although no cases of sheep harboring BSE have been found, laboratory experiments have shown it to be theoretically possible.

Chi Ming Yang, a professor of chemistry at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, said he used a computer model to map the prion protein associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human equivalent of BSE, and the amyloid precursor protein associated with Alzheimer's. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and Yang told a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington that he found a similar pattern of amino acids in the two proteins -- a reductive amino acid followed by three non-reductive amino acids. "This suggests a common molecular mechanism underlying the initiation stages of sporadic Alzheimer's disease and both sporadic and genetic prion diseases," he said in a statement.

Effective September 25, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is adding Denmark to the list of regions where BSE exists because the disease has been detected in a native-born animal. Denmark is already listed among the regions that present an undue risk of introducing BSE into the United States. Therefore, the effect of this final rule, published August 24 in the Federal Register, is a continued restriction on the importation of ruminants that have been in Denmark and meat, meat products, and certain other products of ruminants.

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Apparently unaware of the meat glut now accumulating, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has urged dairy farmers to cull more cows. DFA is concerned about a collapse in milk prices to a 25-year low. They see that the dairy herd is too large. What they perhaps don't realize is the cattle herd is also overly large, prices are low and there isn't a great deal of demand for cows -- which no doubt has contributed to the large dairy herd. They can try the extra cull, but they aren't guaranteed buyers.


Three adults and two young children have been hospitalized for E. coli O157:H7 infection. Those infected said that they ate at a Wendy's restaurant in Salem, OR between Aug.14-16. No other Wendy's restaurants have been linked to the outbreak. The Oregon Health Division is working with Marion County officials to inspect the restaurants and obtain lab results. No specific food has been implicated as the source of the contamination. Altogether eight people have been infected and two other are being tested. "When we see 10 cases, we know there are others out there," said Dr. Paul Cieslak, manager of the acute and communicable disease program at the Oregon Health Division. A Wendy's spokesman said the restaurant will remain closed until management has completed its internal analysis, tracking how the food is handled. "We are going to make absolutely certain that the food we serve is safe for our customers," said Denny Lynch, Wendy's vice president of communications. He said the company regularly tests all its ground beef and vegetables for bacteria such as E. coli, before shipping it to its restaurants.

The DNA samples from another recent outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, linked to a Sizzler, that sickened more than 60 people in the Milwaukee area, killing one young girl, matched the DNA from samples at Excel Corporation's Form Morgan meat packing plant. "This is just a terrible situation; you have the death of a 3-year-old," said Excel spokesman Mark Klein. "We do believe we're a leader in food safety and we're going to remain focused on being that." Poor food-handling practices at the restaurants also are to blame, said William Marler, the Seattle-based attorney who now represents 10 of the Milwaukee victims and has represented victims in a variety of related lawsuits at least since the early 90s. Marler said it appears employees at the Sizzler prepared salad bar materials too close to areas where uncooked meat was handled. In fact, workers were preparing ground raw beef a foot away from an area used to prepare foods served on the restaurant's salad bar, a health official said Friday. That particular spot in the Sizzler kitchen was the "most likely location" where cross contamination occured.


Belgium recently requested that the USDA turn over the sheep that had been found to have a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE), so that it could run tests related to its prevention programs. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said last week in a letter to the Belgian agriculture minister that returning the 350 imported sheep "could undermine confidence in the integrity of our animal health system." The decision was greeted angrily by the owners of one of the two flocks involved, who had been prepared to send the animals back to Belgium rather than see them slaughtered.

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NMA hosted in a teleconference last Friday USDA Technical Service Center officials updated members on the FSIS residue testing program. Progress has been made during the past year through ongoing industry/government discussions. A working group consisting of NMA, AMI, NCBA and NMPF has been meeting on the topic for some time. This teleconference was for the purposes of an update on phenylbutezone (see Herd on the Hill page 1). Members who would like more information on the residue testing program should send a self addressed/stamped (33˘) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West or request a copy of Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow's memo to be sent by fax or by e-mail.


McDonald's ordered its egg producers to comply with strict guidelines for the humane treatment of hens or else risk losing the company's business. The letter made national headlines when the egg industry warned that McDonald's efforts could lead to an increase of egg prices at the grocery store. The guidelines provide for a minimum amount of space for each hen, call for the phasing out of "debeaking" and stop the practice of withholding food and water to up a hen's productivity. "Essentially, McDonald's is responding to social pressure," Bruce Webster, a poultry-science professor at the University of Georgia, told the Wall Street Journal. "This is going to place a moral imperative on other producers." Statements from McDonald's spoke of "improving the lives of more than five million hens."


USDA announced the following purchases last week for distribution to the National School Lunch Program. USDA continues to invite offers for the program. Further information may be obtained from the Contracting Officer at (202) 720-2650. An article written by Lean Trimmings editor Jeremy Russell on the history and current dilemma of the School Lunch Program is featured this week at


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

August 28, 2000


There were increasing numbers of stories in the media last week about the shortage of ground beef for the School Lunch Program. The schools, which open this week and next, are learning that the USDA pantry is very low on one of the most favorite foods – ground beef. About the only practical alternative is for schools to buy enough ground beef for the next meal from a local vendor and whistle Dixie about AMS quality specifications.

There were several meetings in Washington last week. USDA met to try to devise specifications more those like used by fast food operations. The organizations and suppliers also met to see what they could do to help USDA make appropriate changes and not lose too much political face.

None of this addresses the mountain of beef moving inexorably into the supply chain from over-production. Supporting the market in such situations is exactly what the Secretary of Agriculture is supposed to do with the Section 32 funds. We’re looking forward to hearing what the Secretary thinks should be on the school menus this fall. Whatever he announces will hopefully help him avoid the wrath of hundreds of thousands of school children who won’t be served their #1 favorite meal any time soon.


Phenylbutazone, known as "bute," is a veterinary drug only label-approved by the Food & Drug Administration for use by veterinarians in dogs and horses. It has been associated with debilitating conditions in humans and it is absolutely not permitted for use in food-producing animals.

USDA/FSIS is conducting a special project beginning next week to sample and test for this drug in selected bovine slaughter plants under federal inspection. An earlier pilot project this year by FSIS found traces less than 3% of the livestock selected for testing, sufficient cause for this special project. There is no tolerance for this drug in food-producing livestock, and they and their by-products are condemned when it is detected. The special project testing scheme will seriously disrupt plant efficiency, but is essential in assuring consumer confidence in meat products. NMA provided a teleconference last Friday with its affected members (see Lean Trimmings page 4).

Again, phenylbutazone, or "bute," is a drug that is not permitted to be used in food-producing livestock. NMA will work with its members and the USDA to provide the maximum assurance that livestock that may have received this drug do not enter the meat supply. We encourage members who are in communication with livestock producers to inform them that they must not use this drug in food-producing livestock and will be subject to FDA investigation and possible prosecution if it is found.

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On August 25, FDA published a final rule providing for a joint FDA/FSIS review of petitions for use of food ingredients or sources of radiation in meat and poultry products. The rule applies to food additive petitions, color additive petitions, and GRAS affirmation petitions that pertain to substances for use in meat or poultry products (e.g., petitions to irradiate a meat or poultry product, or ingredient to be used in meat or poultry products). Such petitions must state explicitly that approval is sought for use in meat and poultry products, and must be submitted in quadruplicate to FDA. FDA will forward one copy to FSIS. Rather than conducting separate reviews, which often take years, FDA and FSIS will now coordinate their reviews and conduct them simultaneously. A copy of an Olsson, Frank & Weeda memo on the topic is available, send a self addressed/stamped (33˘) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West.


USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs has invited the public to join in a discussion of issues related to captive supplies in the livestock industry on September 21 at the Holiday Inn Denver International Airport in Denver, CO. Part of the discussion will focus on the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) petition to limit packer use of forward contracting and packer feeding. The forum will provide the opportunity to submit written comments on these key issues. Written statements must be postmarked by September 28 and should be sent to Shannon Hamm, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, STOP 3601, Washington, DC 20250-3601. NMA's Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow is a panel participant and welcomes input from members for her prepared remarks.


In a terse letter, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman responded on August 7 to a letter NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow sent him May 26. Mucklow had written to him to directly explain her concerns over the faulty Salmonella standard. "While I appreciate the commitment of the National Meat Association to provide a safe and wholesome meat supply for American consumers and our trading partners overseas, I must disagree with the views expressed in your letter. I continue to believe that this case [the Texas Litigation] was decided incorrectly and that the Salmonella performance standard is an effective and successful measure." Unfortunately he did not elucidate as to why his belief defies scientific capability.


Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman was quoted in the Denver Post Sunday August 20 calling for a debate on the next big farm bill. He feels that farm policy is being ignored. However, the article points out that the House Agriculture Committee held 13 hearings on farm policy in the past year alone. There is a commission at work under the auspices of the Senate Agriculture Committee laying the foundation for the next agriculture bill. Last year, at public hearings in Denver and five other cities, it asked many of the questions Glickman is now raising. The panel's report is due in January. Andrew J. Price, spokesman for Senate Ag Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, commented that "in many ways that will be the kickoff for a major debate in Congress." Although Glickman expressed dissatisfaction with the current policy, he admitted that he didn't have a lot of "specific answers" and, as he said, "You can't beat something with nothing."