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

September 5, 2000



The NMA Board of Directors resolved at the Summer Board Meeting and Conference in Aspen, Colorado to adopt the following new mission statement:

The National Meat Association is a responsive, transparent and effective member-driven industry organization advocating safe, science-based and market defined meat products.

Each part of the vision is defined as follows:

responsive, transparent and effective - Responsive to members in a very personal and accessible manner. Transparent with no hidden agendas. Effective by achieving what it says.

member driven industry organization - The membership provides the plan that the staff executes. NMA is an industry organization for all of its members based on their needs.

advocating - Not voicing or pleading or standing idly by or choosing issues, but effectively advocating any issue that negatively affects member interests and meat industry credibility.

safe, science-based - Food safety based on the scientific method of inquiry is a fundamental tenet.

market-defined meat products - NMA recognizes the necessity of helping its members understand the market place in producing and selling their products.

NMA's President Terry Caviness said: "Such a short, simple, straightforward vision provides a real value for NMA members by providing clear and inspiring direction and distinguishing NMA from other meat organizations."

In Depth Verification Reviews

In March of 2000 the Agency initiated In Depth Verification Reviews (IDVs) to evaluate the adequacy of a plant’s HACCP and SSOP plans. The review was to determine if the plant meets the regulatory requirements, as well as the technical/scientific expectation and basis for the plans.

The IDVs are performed by multidisciplinary teams and involve experts from various parts of the agency, like the Technical Service Center, headquarters, laboratories, and district offices. The teams focus on among other areas: the adequacy of the HACCP hazard analysis, validation of the HACCP plans and system, and when, how and who conducts reassessments of the HACCP plan. The length of the review may vary from 3 to 4 days depending on the size of the plant and the number of plans involved. Review reports are generated by the district office HACCP coordinator along with correlations conducted by the other team members. The reports are then forwarded to field operations headquarters for operational purposes, such as enforcement actions or correlations. Reports may also be forwarded to the office of Policy, Program Development and Evaluation for future policy use. Although the agency has no present plans to make the IDV reports readily available for public viewing, the reports can be accessed through the FOIA.

There are two types of IDVs. The first is "for cause," and will be conducted when an establishment has had a second set Salmonella failure or a Listeria positive, or an excessive number of NRs. The second is at "random" which is conducted with oversight of the Technical Service Center. These are designed in part to assist FSIS in evaluating and improving its system.

To date approximately 15 plants have under gone IDV reviews with another 30 IDVs to be scheduled for FY 2001. It is expected that the Agency will be issuing a Directive to the field providing clarification as to the purpose, procedures and various reporting lines associated with the IDVs. (For a copy of the FSIS guidance on IDVs, send a self addressed/stamped (33˘) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West.)

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FSIS has begun to conduct In-Depth Verification (IDV) reviews of plants’ HACCP plans and systems as well as its SSOP program and procedures. It is extremely important that each establishment be prepared for the possibility of a FSIS, IDV Review. Unlike the role of the local FSIS Inspector, who is responsible to determine that plants’ "say what they do and do what they say," the 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. In fact, the IDV reviews focus on, among other areas, the adequacy of the HACCP hazard analysis and the supporting information and justifications made during the hazard analysis, as well as the validation of the HACCP plans and system. The reviews also investigate when, how and who conducts reassessments of the HACCP plans.

To help members both understand the complex issues surrounding the IDV reviews, such as proper Hazard Analysis, and more importantly to prepare them for the reviews themselves, NMA is introducing a series of IDV Review Seminars. These one-day courses are the best thing you can do to prepare for the inevitable review. Dates include: October 3 in Los Angeles, CA; October 4 in San Francisco, CA; and October 5 in Portland, OR. Check the brochure included with this week's newsletter of call (510) 763-1533 for registration information.


Although, the British government has no plans to tighten public health controls at this time, top British officials will convene a meeting of scientific advisors on the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) on September 29 to examine the results of a new study, which raises the possibility that a range of livestock other than cattle could be carriers of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). "Although they may not show any signs of disease, no matter how long they live, they could still harbor high levels of the infectious agent and therefore pose a risk," said lead researcher John Collinge, who conducted his study on mice and hamsters.

Professor Sir John Krebs, the head of the UK Food Standards Agency, was cited as insisting that there was no need to introduce further BSE controls despite warnings that the disease may jump from one species to another more easily, stressing that there was no need for people to change their eating habits in response to the findings. Krebs also pointed out that the study provided no new evidence that BSE was entering the food chain.

His measured comments were met by panicky headlines from Reuters stating "Britain faces new 'mad cow' alert." According to the Reuters report, research provoked fears that if the infection lay hidden in the farmyard, it could travel without check. Pigs, poultry and sheep could carry the sort of risk long associated with cows, according to the laboratory research on mice and hamsters. Apparently healthy cows could also turn out to be carriers. Collinge's team revealed its findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Forty years ago, Iowa Beef Packers (IBP) was an emerging business in an industry that was dominated by just a few old-line packers, Swift, Armour, Wilson, Morrell, Rath, Dubuque and a few others. These firms were located close to terminal livestock markets in major metropolitan areas and were generally housed in multi-storied buildings and slaughtered several species. Two unions represented about 90% of the industry’s workers. The Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workemen (AMCBW) represented the skilled butchers and the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA), always considered more "lefty" under the leadership of Jesse Prosten, represented packing line workers.

The major companies were very competitive with each other, especially about reaching new master contracts with both the AMCBW and the UPWA. Every three years, as contract termination came in view (customarily September 1), there’d be a race to determine which of the large firms would settle with the union first and usually prior to the contract expiration date. Such a settlement would allow the early bird to get the favorable terms it needed, often at the expense of its competitors.

These master agreements then became the blueprint for settlement of area contracts in all the metropolitan areas of the country. There were many small organizations representing meat companies in labor negotiations. Regional or local slaughterers in such cities as Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, Detroit, Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and many more joined together in local organizations for representation. Pacific Coast Meat Association, one of the predecessor organizations of NMA, was just such an organization. Often negotiations were hard and heavy in the local areas, as the smaller companies tried to modify the pattern set by the major firms.

Two huge changes occurred in the early 60s, and altered the course of history. Andy Anderson and Currier Holman developed and initiated the disassembly line concept of IBP, and, with great help from Arden Walker, established an industrial policy that de facto eliminated the butchering skill to a line task performance while at the same time resisting unionizing efforts by both unions and absolutely refusing to accept the master agreement style contracts which allowed the union to take down the entire company, coast to coast, on a single date once every three years. The other huge change was the introduction of vacuum packaging of fresh meat by the Cryovac Division of W. R. Grace & Co. which extended the shelf life for fresh meat in boxes, replacing the traditional shipping of quarters and primals on the rail.

And thus, on the threshold of the new millenium, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, the successor to the AMC&BW and UPWA, represents maybe 20% of the workers in the meat industry, and even fewer in the poultry industry, there are no more "master agreements," the companies that once wrote those agreements are now brand names of today’s industry leaders, and the entire structure of the meat industry has changed. The unions worked diligently for their 1977 goal of "wage parity" in the beef sector but lost ground every year. In 2000, the concept of master agreements is as dead as the companies that used to negotiate them.

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This week in Lean Trimmings, NMA is publishing an editorial by NMA Legal Counsel Phil Olsson. The editorial covers the USDA/AMS changes to the school lunch program. The complete text of "Test to Punish or Test to Find, That is the Question" is appended to this the newsletter. It is a must read for anyone interested or involved in the AMS commodity purchase program, microbiological testing or government enforcement activities in general. To read this editorial visit


School is starting around the country today with much higher beef prices than last year. In fact, last year in the first week of September, prices for Beef-Frozen Fine Ground were purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service from a variety of companies for prices ranging from $1.0740 to $1.1470 per pound. This week's prices ranged from $1.5900 to $1.6797 per pound. That makes this year's prices at this time 138.6% to 156.4% higher than last year's.


The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Salem, OR appears to be over, although a few more cases could still develop (see last week's Lean Trimmings for details). The Marion County Health Department said Tuesday there are 15 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 infections, with another 37 "presumptive cases."


The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is proposing a publicly available catalog of types of packer swine marketing contracts, the Agency announced in the Federal Register today. GIPSA is also proposing new regulations to establish monthly reports of the numbers of swine committed for delivery to packers under types of existing contracts contained in the catalog. Comments must be received on or before October 5.



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

September 5, 2000


Two months ago an appeals court pulled the plug on FSIS's HACCP Inspection Model's Project (HIMP), saying that it didn't provide inspectors the power of critical determination over carcasses that they are required to have by law. HIMP is a project where certain tasks previously performed by inspectors are now being performed by plant employees under the direct supervision of FSIS personnel. HIMP has been a major initiative of USDA in the past 18 months in plants that slaughter young chickens, turkeys and market hogs. No beef slaughter plants are in the HIMP project.

Reports from FSIS have shown that end products are superior under the new system, but the meat inspectors' union has taken offense at the project. Saying that the program breaks a sacred trust with consumers by allowing more industry involvement in inspection activities, the union has launched what can only be described as a full scale assault on HIMP first by filing the lawsuit that would later invalidate the project and then by following up with what FSIS Administrator Tom Billy characterizes as a "campaign of misinformation." Delmer Jones, recently re-elected chairman of the union, has been quoted in numerous publications saying that unwholesome, adulterated product "is being allowed to go out to the consumer." So vitriolic have his attacks become that FSIS officials felt compelled to cancel a recent meeting with him and other union representatives because "continuing this kind of interation was unproductive." However, FSIS statistics released today show an across the board drop in food safety problems and other defects in 7 plants under HIMP as versus standards based on traditional inspection.

In the new report, contamination from digestive content, e.g. fecal material, dropped from 1.5% to 0.2%; animal diseases and conditions that do not render foods unsafe to humans or are unlikely to be transmitted to humans, but are still considered to adulterate product, dropped from 52.5% to 21.4%, a dramatic improvement by any standard of measurement. Based on these results and the determination of the appeals court, FSIS finds itself in a 'can't go on, must go on' dilemma. So, the Agency has designed a solution to the court's mandate.

Under the new FSIS HIMP program announced last Thursday, two inspectors will be assigned to every plant. One inspector will perform the oversight duties originally considered the heart of HIMP and the other will be an on-line carcass inspector, checking the poultry before it goes into the chiller. With this system, Billy says, the Agency has "found a solution where FSIS can meet the demands of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act while continuing to capitalize on the food safety gains garnered by this project." FSIS plans to restart HIMP on September 18.

"As FSIS Administrator -- and as a consumer -- I believe the customer deserves a safer and more wholesome product," Billy said in a press statement on August 31. "When we embarked on the models project, for the first time we measured the accomplishments of the current system. While traditional inspection is good, it could be better." … "While perfection under any system is impossible, we must strive to improve."

NMA has supported system improvements that incorporate efficient use of tax-funded resources so long as they in no way diminish the wholesomeness and safety of the end products. NMA supported legislative changes in the mid-1980s, it supported the development of task-oriented inspector assignments and related system changes, it supported the need to incorporate science-based technological changes in inspection systems, it supported the HACCP rule, and it supported initiatives like HIMP which aims to convert young, healthy chickens, turkeys and market hogs into wholesome, safe poultry and meat. Such projects will help to demonstrate ways to modernize the inspection system. (For a memo on HIMP send a self addressed/stamped (33˘) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West or go to

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Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen, chaired the media advisory of an unusual coalition consisting of Government Accountability Project (GAP), the inspectors union, Bill Marler, Seattle Attorney, Cattlemen’s Defense Fund et al in Washington this morning when they released GAP’s Jungle 2000 Is America’s Meat Fit to Eat survey report. The 14-page survey was reportedly conducted by Felicity Nestor. Nestor, who is not listed with the HACCP International Alliance as having received basic HACCP training, is GAP's food safety program director and staff attorney. She reported that the survey received limited but very negative response.

In responding to questions from reporters, the spokespeople said that they had not been able to link their findings with illness outbreaks … nor were they able to link their findings with particular plants … but they were nevertheless sure that consumers were worse off than under traditional inspection. One claimed that USDA is faking the statistics (see Herd on the Hill page 1) and when asked why they continue to eat meat, one inspector responded that while inspectors know how dangerous meat is, they also know how to handle it and thereby make it safe for them to eat.


President Clinton last week vetoed H.R.8, the bill which would have phased out the estate and gift tax over the next ten years. He criticized the bill because it focuses on the wealthiest two percent of the population and that more than half of its benefits would go to just over 3,000 estates. Opponents of the estate tax, including some NMA members, have argued that it is harmful to small, privately held businesses, who stand to lose much of their foundation when a family member dies.


USDA/FSIS officials met last week to discuss HACCP phase II, that is the ongoing enforcement of HACCP regulations now that the Agency has completed the implementation to full HACCP inspection. According to a report in Food Chemical News Daily, HACCP phase II will look at ways to improve the quality of industry's HACCP plans and the government's inspection techniques. FSIS wants to make sure industry is using all the necessary critical control measures to protect consumers and that plants are following through on their plans consistently. The agency is also exploring ways to better integrate compliance into inspection "so that it's clear to industry, if their system's not adequate, there's going to be appropriate regulatory follow-up," Billy told the union, according to the transcript.


NMA joined eight other trade association in responding to the FSIS Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Other Consumer Protection (OCP) activities. "Industry has carefully reviewed the Notice and believes the best way to modernize OCP activities is to adopt a systems approach, handling all OCP activities in a manner similar to the approach for food safety activities." … "Although we are recommending the same performance-based approach for general regulation, we strongly believe enforcement should be handled differently. Enforcement policies and sanctions must take into account the relative differences in severity between food safety issues and OCP issues." (For the complete industry submitted document visit


FSIS today published in the Federal Register a correction to its final rule on the "Elimination of Requirements for Partial Quality Congrol Program." For a copy of the correction send a self addressed/stamped (33˘) envelope to Jeremy Russell at NMA-West.