Beef Bits

Apr 3, 2009
by WLJ

Welfare labeling now available in Canada

Animal Welfare Approved, a program that promotes the well-being of animals and the sustainability of humane family farms, announced recently that it has approval from the Canadian government to begin certifying farms in Canada. Labels on Animal Welfare Approved products in Canada will read "This product originates from animals who are raised under the standards of the Animal Welfare Approved Program." The Canadian Food Inspection Agency considers certifying standards to be part of a label claim and independent third-party certifiers must provide the public access to its standards.

Cargill adopts video auditing

Cargill said last week it has begun implementing a third-party video auditing program to help improve its animal welfare protection systems and will have the program in place at all of its U.S. beef slaughter plants by the end of 2009. In addition to implementing the remote video auditing service, Cargill created its own humane animal-handling training and certification program for employees.

LeBeau named CHB chief operating officer

Tom LeBeau has been selected as the new Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) LLC chief operating officer. A 28-year veteran in the meat industry, LeBeau brings a wealth of beef marketing and retail experience to the CHB LLC team. LeBeau has worked for many leading companies in the meat industry including Monfort/ConAgra Beef Co. and Swift and Co. After leaving Swift and Co., he served as vice president of value added sales for American Food Group. Recently, he worked in a partnership brokerage business servicing SuperValu, one of the largest supermarket distributors in the country.

Restaurant outlook remains uncertain

Restaurant industry performance remained soft in February as the National Restaurant Association’s comprehensive index of restaurant activity stood below 100 for the 16th consecutive month. The association’s Restaurant Performance Index stood at 97.5 in February, up just 0.1 percent from its January level. Index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. Restaurant operators reported negative same-store sales for the ninth consecutive month in February. Twenty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between February 2008 and February 2009, down from 31 percent who reported a sales gain in January. Fifty-six percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in February, up slightly from 55 percent who reported negative sales in January.

Russia to cut beef imports

Russia is expected to trim beef imports after officials predicted that domestic consumption of beef and pork will decline 20 percent this year. Consumers in the country hurt by the global economic contraction are shifting their purchases to poultry. A Russian official told Reuters that Moscow should retain current import quotas on poultry and pork, but could raise beef quotas by 20 percent to 25 percent from 2010 as domestic production falls. Russian beef imports through the first two months of 2009 decreased by more than 40 percent to 39,000 tons from the same period last year.

Japan lifts ban from JBS plant

The Japanese government said March 27 it would once again allow beef shipments from a plant owned by JBS/Swift &Co. in Grand Island, NE. The plant has been banned since October 2008 after it shipped nine boxes of variety meats to Japan without the proper documentation to prove that the product originated from cattle 20 months of age or younger.

Canada investigates feed ban violation

An investigation into how banned materials from slaughtered cattle may have ended up in poultry feed at an Alberta rendering plant was continuing last week, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The product contained specified risk materials from Canadian cattle, but a CFIA spokeswoman said the integrity of the food chain was not affected by the incident. A CFIA news release said the "vast majority of the potentially contaminated feed has been identified, contained, and will be disposed of. The company is working closely with CFIA to quickly identify and dispose of all potentially contaminated feed."