Edited by Kiran Kernellu
September 29, 2003


A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCO) met last week in Denver for the purpose of reviewing the progress made in responding to the recommendations coming out of the NCBA-sponsored Beef Industry E. coli Summit in January 2003 in San Antonio, TX. Each of the five segments was represented in the meeting, and each segment presented progress.

NMA's Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow presented the jointly supported (NMA, SMA, AMI, NCBA) Beef Slaughter Best Practices (BPs) which NMA and its sister organization, Southwest Meat Association, started in late 2002. These will be posted to NMA's website this week, and will also be posted to the BIFSCO website in PDF format. As Meat & Poultry noted in its August publication, they were developed, under the leadership of Dr. Kerri Harris at TAMU, by people that are closely familiar with the operations on a slaughter floor, and are practical and informational guidelines for companies to develop their own BPs with the specific variations in their particular operations. One of the supporting documents that accompanies the BPs is the "Good Manufacturing Guidelines for the Removal of Spinal Cord During Slaughter Operations and Sampling and Testing of Advanced Meat Recovery Product for Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein Analysis," published by NMA in 2002, and also available on the NMA website.

Tim Biela, Vice President Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Texas American Food Service, Fort Worth, TX, and a Director of NMA, presented the BPs for Ground Beef production. Again, these were developed by NMA with a working group from the industry that met earlier this year under the leadership of Dr. Harris. The BPs are a sequel to earlier guidelines published by NMA. Again, these now have the sponsorship of NMA, SMA, AMI and NCBA. They will also be available on the websites.

Finally, NMA, with input from AMI and major packers, developed BPs for Vacuum-Packed Sub Primal Beef Cuts, and Rosemary presented these. They too are co-sponsored by SMA, AMI and NCBA and will be posted to the websites.

Randy Huffman of AMI presented BPs for Injected and Marinated cuts of beef, and the group provided input. When completed, these will also be posted to the websites. The NCBA staff, working with Mike Engler of Cactus Feeders and the producer segment, presented an excellent paper reviewing the progress in pre-harvest preventive research, and some outlines of BPs for producers. There was great discussion and this will probably be presented in several formats for posting to the websites in due course. Retail and Foodservice BPs are also pending.

Rosemary reports that it was a most productive meeting; there are tangible results and more to come! Above all, this really shows how much progress can be made when the industry works cooperatively together.


NMA's Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow was the guest of Cargill-Excel at its Meat Solutions: Food Safety & Technology conference last Friday in Las Vegas, NV. The day-long meeting had eight food safety and technology presentations by company and invited experts: BSE; Antiobiotic Use; Carcass Wash; Carcass (Micro) Mapping; RTE Food Safety; Nutrition, Obesity & Wellness; Country of Origin Labeling; and Ground Beef. Attendees included Excel field managers and related personnel, and customers and other interested third parties. The focus was to share information about what Cargill-Excel is doing to assure the safety of its products, and then to respond to questions.

It was a great session, with straight-forward, forthright presentations, supported by data and information, all packed on to a CD disk for take-home review by attendees. It is a great privilege to be invited to attend such company-wide management meetings and to hear the kinds of questions that the people who are in the field have to respond to. Rosemary notes that she has had such an opportunity occasionally, sometimes in the middle of crises, and sometimes under more routine conditions. In this case, Cargill-Excel has plants coast to coast and is one of the largest firms in the industry. Such meetings with presentations by key executive managers and experts not only inform the field managers, but they infuse the ranks with confidence in the company's intentions and efforts to be on the leading edge of providing the safest meat possible and using the most effective technology available.


L. Blaine Liljenquist, President of Western States Meat Packers Association from 1961 to 1970, died September 18 in his home in McLean, VA. Blaine was 91 years old. After returning from active service in World War II, Blaine became the Washington representative for Western States Meat Packers Association, and succeeded to the Presidency on the death of the founding president, E. Floyd Forbes. Blaine served during the tumultuous years leading to the passage of the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967. He is remembered as a kindly, caring family man with a wonderful smile. Blaine is survived by his wife Patricia, his seven children, 29 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. We extend our condolences to his family.

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Food Chemical News reported last Wednesday that Texas will implement a new cattle tuberculosis (TB) testing plan this fall in an attempt to regain TB-free status, which the state lost in 2001. It was then that two herds tested positive for TB. A third herd was found to be infected last month.

A joint industry-state task force developed the new testing plan for dairy and purebred cattle herds late last year. "USDA funding recently was approved for the Texas TB plan, so we can enlist and pay private practitioners to help with the TB testing program, which will begin November 1," said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas' state veterinarian, in the report. There will be no cost to private ranchers for these tests. The state will offer certification training seminars for practitioners who want to participate. Dairy herds will be tested first, Hillman reportedly said, adding, "we'll also need TB tests on 2,000 to 2,500 purebred cattle herds, to ensure adequate surveillance." See the April 1, May 13, and June 10, 2002 editions of Lean Trimmings for more on this issue.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced last Wednesday that Canadian boneless beef and veal are now being exported to the U.S. Canadian lamb, beef liver, bison, elk and processed products containing imported beef are also eligible for trade with the U.S.

Further, discussions are ongoing to finalize requirements for the export of Canadian beef and beef products to several countries, including Mexico and Russia. Russia has required that all exporting establishments be pre-approved by Russian veterinary authorities. These inspections are meant to assure Russian officials that beef-cutting plants meet the enhanced export criteria.
Russia will allow the importation of bovine embryos as well as boneless beef.

Canada has also joined with the United States and Mexico in taking a leadership role in fostering the development of a more practical, risk-based approach to BSE at the international level through the Office International des Epizooties (OIE).


Lean Trimmings and Herd on the Hill are offered electronically. If you'd like to receive the newsletter via e-mail, please contact Kiran Kernellu at [email protected] or 510-763-1533. Receive the latest news every Monday afternoon in your inbox instead of waiting for it in the mail!


NMA reports news items that are of special interest to its readers, and provides information that they may want to be able to access. Below are links to the Federal Register, AMS, APHIS, and FSIS, respectively:



NMA's resource, "The Role of Microbiological Testing in Beef Safety Systems," which was offered in the May 27, 2003 Lean Trimmings, has been revised and is now available for dissemination. NMA members who would like a copy of the resource should contact Julie Ramsey at 510-763-1533 or [email protected].

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The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) reported last Thursday that its checkoff-funded research shows dramatic results from pre-harvest E. coli O157:H7 (E. coli) interventions. All three E. coli interventions - a microbial feed, an antimicrobial feed additive and a vaccine - were evaluated in a live animal trial at Colorado State University. They demonstrated reductions in E. coli prevalence on hides or in fecal materials.

The study tested Lactobacillus acidophilus probiotic (Bovamine, Nutrition Physiology Corp.), neomycin sulfate (NEOMIX®, Pfizer Animal Health) and an E. coli bacterin (FDAH Vaccine, Fort Dodge Animal Health). "Eight variations on the treatments were studied since the three interventions were tested singularly and sequentially," said Dr. Keith Belk, Colorado State University researcher, in a press release. The study was conducted in a commercial feedlot located in Eastern Colorado from March 1, 2003 through May 26, 2003. Researchers collected 1,172 fecal and hide samples from 24 pens of cattle [approximately 200 head of (925 lb) cattle per pen], which were randomly allocated to allow for eight treatment groups, replicated three times. Four treatments using intervention strategies in combination also were evaluated.

"The live animal management challenges of this pathogen are complex and enormously different from post-harvest management, and this research moves us one step closer to overcoming these challenges," said Mike Engler, Ph.D., NCBA Beef Safety Research Subcommittee Chair and Cactus Feeders President, in the release. "This research will lead to a variety of interventions beef producers can use as part of the industry-wide fight against E. coli O157:H7."

"This checkoff-funded research shows some of the most dramatic pre-harvest reductions of E. coli O157:H7 to date and it supports building multiple interventions and hurdles against this pathogen," said Dr. Bo Reagan, Vice President of Research and Knowledge Management, NCBA, which manages safety research on behalf of the Cattlemen's Beef Board. More about this issue is available at:
http://www.beef.org//dsp/dsp_content.cfm?locationId=45&contentTypeId=2&conte ntId=2278&print=1.


FSIS is holding two of five workshops to explain its new rule, "Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products," to owners and operators of very small, and small, inspected establishments. Attendees should register in advance by contacting Sheila Johnson at 202-690-6498 or [email protected]. The remaining meetings will be held this coming Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the following locations:

Holiday Inn Oakland Airport
500 Hegenberger Rd.
Oakland, CA
(510) 904-5809

Wyndham Garden Hotel
6000 Pan American Freeway NE
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 798-4300


October 1-2, 2003 - Beyond Basics (HACCP) -- College Station, TX
October 23, 2003 - SSOP and SPS (HACCP) - San Francisco, CA***
November 4, 2003 - Listeria Workshop - Ontario, CA ***

February 11-14, 2004 - NMA's 58th Annual Convention - San Antonio, TX
February 11, 2004 - AMSA's Western Meat Science Conference - San Antonio, TX
April 3-5, 2004 - Basic HACCP - Los Angeles, CA
April 21-23, 2004 - HACCP in Spanish - Los Angeles, CA
September 18-20, 2004 - Basic HACCP - San Francisco, CA

Contact NMA at (510) 763-1533 for more information and registration materials.

*** Location subject to change


NMA has available a resource document, "Good Manufacturing Guidelines for the Removal of Spinal Cord During Slaughter Operations and Sampling and Testing of Advanced Meat Recovery Product for Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein Analysis." It is recommended that this document be used in conjunction with the Guidelines for Developing Best Practices for Beef Slaughter, which NMA has developed, in conjunction with SMA, AMI and NCBA, as well leading representatives of beef slaughtering companies.

The resources are available on the Files page of NMA's website:

NMA members contact Kiran Kernellu at 510-763-1533 or [email protected] for a copy of these resources.

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USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of August 2003. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 55.4%, up from 56.3% in July. Select was 42.0%, up from 40.9% the previous month. And Prime was 2.7%, down from 2.8% in July. For a copy of the entire report, which covers beef, lamb and mutton, NMA members send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Kiran Kernellu or visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/mgc/mgc-pubs.htm.

This data is significant in showing recent high demand for Prime and Choice cuts, in particular. The same time last year, Choice was 57.6%; Select was 38.9%; and Prime was 3.5%. Observers expect that the supply of Choice beef will get even tighter going into 2004.

Edited by Kiran Kernellu
September 29, 2003


The FSIS Constituent Alert last Friday announced two new measurement devices designed to assist it to allocate processing inspection resources to improve food safety. The devices are two coefficients, inherent and actual, that will measure two types of food safety hazards. The Hazard Coefficient (HC) is to measure the inherent relative, biological, chemical, and physical hazards associated with producing meat and poultry products; the Hazard Control Coefficient (HCC) is a real-time measure, based on Agency data, of how well an establishment controls its food safety and other consumer protection hazards through meeting regulatory requirements. FSIS claims that the HC and HCC are management tools for allocating resources to maximize food safety and public health protection, and are part of several initiatives being implemented to take the Agency closer towards a risk-based inspection system.

NMA made the appropriate call this morning for more information to understand these new statistically-based measurements, which will be managed by the Program Evaluation, Enforcement & Review (PEER) staff, and was informed that they are not yet finalized. It is NMA's view that any such new, statistic-based Agency management tools need to be transparent and to have the full cooperative understanding of all interested parties, including the regulated industry, before they become operational. We are communicating this view to the Administrator of FSIS today.


Last Tuesday Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced legislation to restrict packer ownership of livestock in the pork industry. The bill would make it unlawful for any packer with an annual slaughter capacity of more than 20 million swine to slaughter more than 10 million packer-owned swine in any calendar year. The bill would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.

Last Thursday Agriculture Online reported the Senator as saying either we stop the trend toward vertical integration, or we prepare for what he called the "inevitable chickenization" of the pork industry. The bill, "will at least limit the cancerous growth of vertical integration until we can pass a cure," he said. "It's important that we sustain a place in the market for independant pork producers and family farmers." He also said, "What we're doing is going after the big boys that not only are big packers but also the ones who tend to squeeze out the spot market because they've got such a high percentage of their own hogs that they're butchering."


Last Thursday the Associated Press reported that after over 40 years of exporting more meat, grains and produce than it imports, the U.S. is now on the brink of becoming a net agricultural importer, according to Purdue University economists Phil Paarlberg and Phil Abbott. They caution that if current trends continue, agriculture imports could overtake exports by 2007. The situation is reportedly driven by a sluggish export market and consumers' growing appetite for foods grown overseas.

From mangos to baby back ribs, Americans are eating more foods that are either not produced in America or in amounts too small to meet demand, Paarlberg said in the report. He and Abbott said U.S. agriculture exports were projected to grow by about $500 million in the coming fiscal year to about $56.5 billion. Agriculture imports, meanwhile, are expected to grow as much as $3.5 billion to about $47.5 billion, during the same period, they said. "We can see this gap narrowing. Where we were looking at an agricultural trade surplus five or six years ago of $15 billion to $20 billion, now it's under $10 billion," Paarlberg said.

He also said the nation has not been a net agricultural importer since 1958-59. Paarlberg said imports have generally been growing since the mid-1980s, driven in part because Americans are consuming more crops the nation produces little or none of, such as coffee, tea, cocoa and bananas.

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Deadline Date - Agency Description - Federal Register link

October 3, 2003 - FSIS - "FSIS Safety and Security Guidelines for the Transportation and Distribution of Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products; Notice of Availability" - http://frwebgate5.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=251550651 93+4+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve

October 9, 2003 - FDA - "Food Labeling: Trans Fatty Acids in Nutrition Labeling; Consumer Research to Consider Nutrient Content and Health Claims and Possible Footnote or Disclosure Statements" - http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.g ov/2003/03-17526.htm

October 27, 2003 - CNPP - "Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; Notice of Availability of Proposed Food Guide Pyramid Daily Food Intake Patterns and Technical Support Data and Announcement of Public Comment Period" - http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.g ov/2003/03-22763.htm

November 18, 2003 - APHIS - "Exotic Newcastle Disease; Removal of Areas From Quarantine" - http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.g ov/2003/03-23953.htm

November 28, 2003 - FSIS - "Classes of Poultry" - http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.g ov/2003/03-24536.htm

March 22, 2004 - FSIS - "Need To Complete New Registration Form and Importance of Compliance With Recordkeeping and Registration Requirements Under the Federal Meat and Poultry Products Inspection Regulations" - http://frwebgate6.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=251848287 425+9+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve

December 8, 2004 - FSIS - "Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products" - http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.g ov/2003/03-14173.htm

None stated - FSIS - "Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future2003 FSIS Food Safety Vision" - http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/programs/vision071003.htm


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public meeting last Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the potential development of a comprehensive, risk-based Animal Feed Safety System (AFSS), describing how animal feeds (individual ingredients and mixed feeds) should be manufactured and distributed to minimize risks to animals consuming the feed and people consuming food products from animals. It featured stakeholder and government speakers discussing safety measures currently in use and others, which could be adapted to the feed industry, and several facilitated break-out discussion groups.

Last week the Agency launched the multi-year effort to construct the new animal AFSS. Current guidelines will be overhauled to make them more risk-based and preventative in nature, which could result in the implementation of a new HACCP plan for animal feeds, according to a Food Chemical News (FCN) report last Thursday. The new AFSS will expand feed safety beyond the traditional finished product testing to include more "front-end" checks, including sampling of incoming raw materials and vendor certifications, officials with FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine said in the report.

"We're very encouraged by what feed manufacturers are already doing on a voluntary basis," said Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Director Stephen Sundlof in the report. CVM wants to incorporate " the best of those efforts" into its new feed safety system, he said. The AFSS will be designed to identify both known and unexpected hazards early on in feed production, target both human and animal safety, and apply to feed manufacturers, transporters, and suppliers, Sundlof added. While he called the current U.S. animal feed safety system "remarkable" compared with those of other countries, Sundlof said that the new focus on bioterrorism, the recent BSE scare in Canada, and other "hot topics" like Salmonella contamination and excessive levels of dioxins and PCBs in feeds all point to the need for a new system that stresses prevention. What's more, in light of these new hazards, the feed safety system must remain sufficiently robust to satisfy the nation's trading partners, he added in a FCN report today. The AFSS "is logical [to accomplish] all of these goals," he said.

During the meeting, Mike Davidson, a feed safety official with California's Department of Food and Agriculture, briefed attendees on the state's Safe Animal Feed Education Program (SAFE), a quality assurance training plan for feed manufacturers. SAFE features training materials and a voluntary auditing program in which inspectors using quality assurance checklists visit California feed mills. Davidson suggested that his state's feed safety program could form the basis for new CVM feed regulations.

In a report last Wednesday, Drovers Alert noted that the new AFSS is an expansion of the ban against brain and spinal tissue in cattle feed to include other species, namely dogs, cats, pigs and poultry. One potential new regulation would require companies that slaughter downer cows to dispose of the brain and spinal cord before mixing animal feed and pet food. Reportedly, expanding the ban on the use of spinal and brain tissue in animal meal and pet food would leave meat companies with a lot of waste, nearly 100 pounds per carcass, to send to landfills.

CVM expects to complete a significant portion of the new system by 2006. The AFSS could involve new regulations, Sundloff said, adding, " I hope we won't have to." Any such rules, however, would be available for comment by 2007, he said.


Last week the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Public Citizen filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging that FDA broke the law when it decided to let food manufacturers tout unproven health claims on food labels. The suit says that current food labeling law requires health claims on food be backed up by "significant scientific agreement," according to a CSPI release. An FDA initiative announced in July lowers that threshold, allowing weaker claims as long as they are qualified with disclaimers, according to CSPI. In a complaint dated September 23, 2003, the groups also contend that the FDA is ignoring laws requiring the agency to respond to public comments and to justify its decisions regarding new health claims. The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, including a court order prohibiting FDA from approving any qualified health claims.


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Kiran Kernellu
Communications Manager
National Meat Association
(510) 763-1533
[email protected]