BEEF bits

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 9, 2008

BEEF bits

Kidney cancer not linked to meat

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute in November published online the results of a study that found no association between fat, protein and meat consumption on the development of kidney cancer. The study, led by Jung Eun Lee of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, analyzed data from 13 other studies seeking a connection between the incidence of kidney cancer and diet. Kidney cancer rates are rising worldwide, but the cause remains unknown. In the recent study, researchers compared the fat, protein and meat intakes of the participants who developed kidney cancer with those who did not develop the disease. They found no association with fat, protein or meat intake after considering the influence of other known kidney cancer risk factors.

Consumers cutting meat to save

In its annual survey of “What America Eats,” Parade magazine has published results of pertinent trends concerning meat consumption. In the survey, nearly two-thirds (59 percent) of the 531 respondents in the online survey said that due to rising costs, they’ve cut back on purchases of buying red meat and are instead substituting chicken.

More than 80 percent of respondents overall said they have changed their shopping habits because of sticker shock. Along with fewer meat purchases, consumers said they are cooking more meals from scratch and buying food in bulk. In addition, more consumers said they utilize coupons when shopping. A minority of the total panel also said that they use expiration dates on packages as a suggestion, with a third saying they are willing to eat anything that looks and smells alright regardless of expiration date.

U.S., Mexico approve export facilities

The U.S. and Mexico have reached an agreement on approving a significant number of meat processing and storage facilities for export. The U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service and Mexico’s food safety agency, SAGARPA, have been involved in ongoing discussions over the past 18 months to resolve this issue. In the U.S., discussions have involved 109 U.S. meat industry facilities. This action comes on the heels of approval by SAGARPA of administrative changes at 32 U.S. facilities. These administrative changes, which might involve plant name changes or other paperwork issues, had the potential to create export delays at the border. In Mexico, 13 facilities have been approved, although four of those approvals are pending corrective action. This will bring the total of Mexican meat facilities approved for exporting to the U.S. to more than 30.

FSIS updates Canadian import rules

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued Notice 88-08, which provides updated information to FSIS about the receipt, slaughter, and inspection of cattle, bison, sheep, and goats imported from Canada. This notice cancels FSIS Notice 14-07 and updates the instructions for inspection of these animals with the following changes: Bovines born after March 1, 1999, arriving from Canada are eligible for slaughter; Verification of animals coming from the feedlot refers to activities involving sheep and goats only in this notice and no longer involves bovines; FSIS personnel are to conduct another awareness meeting at establishments that have chosen to, or that may choose to, receive ruminants from Canada; FSIS will no longer hold pregnant bovines and pregnant cattle and bison are now eligible for slaughter; Collection of fetal bovine serum from the fetuses of Canadian animals is no longer prohibited, and; The notice identifies a new place to send the VS Form 1-27, “Permit for Movement of Restricted Animals.” To view this notice, visit OPPDE/rdad/FSISNotices/88-08.pdf.

U.S. beef selling well in South Korea

Cuts of imported U.S. beef have been selling like hot cakes since hitting shelves at major South Korea discount outlets, with sales reaching over 200 tons in just four days. The country’s top three retailers—E-Mart, Homeplus and Lottemart—said their combining sales of U.S. beef reached 205.4 tons just days after they placed it on their shelves.

The stores had earlier refrained from handling U.S. beef, even after an import ban was officially lifted in late June, due to fears of a public backlash. Seoul and Washington signed a revised sanitation agreement in April of this year that allowed most beef cuts to be imported with the exception of specified-risk materials, which include such parts as tonsils and certain parts of the intestine. The deal was later modified to stipulate that all beef must be from cattle under 30 months of age.