BEEF bits

Nov 4, 2008

BEEF bits

FSIS releases new E. coli study

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published a report titled “Results of Checklist and Reassessment of Control for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Beef Operations,” a study that stemmed primarily from an increase in the number of E. coli O157:H7 positives and recalls in 2007. This report details the results and analysis of information received in response to an FSIS notice that instructed FSIS inspectors to collect data about establishments’ reas sessment of their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plans. Inspectors also had to complete a check list, collecting information about the practices at sev eral types of raw beef operations. FSIS is seeking com ments from stakeholders over a 30-day comment peri od. FSIS said it believes this report will help it develop additional risk mitigation actions to control for E. coli.

Beef first choice of tailgaters

One of the earliest stories about tailgating stems from the 1869 Rutgers-Princeton game when picnics were served from a carriage at the “tail end” of a horse.

As pickups and other vehicles replaced horses around the football field, the term “tailgating” stuck. It’s now a fall phenomenon, with some 70 million Americans expected to host or attend at least one of these ulti mate parking lot parties this fall. Beef was cited as the favorite food for al fresco stadium dining by 62 percent of avid tailgaters in a recent survey by Grill Freedom Inc. and Steak reigns as king, chosen by 34.4 percent of tailgaters, while burgers ranked second, preferred by 27.7 percent of parking lot grill masters, according to the survey.

Japanese officials visit U.S. plants

Japan began inspection at U.S. meat packing plants recently after Washington concluded that human and computer error caused recent shipments of banned beef to Japan. The Japanese government was to send farm and welfare ministry officials to the U.S. for on-site inspections at 10 meat processing plants, according to ministry officials. The inspection will continue until Aug. 31 and reports indicate that Tokyo may lift a suspension of imports from the plants as early as mid-September, based on inspec tion results. Japan recently announced that USDA had sent reports to Tokyo on the cases, saying one of the two shipments of banned beef resulted from human error in the packing process in April.

Brazilian beef exports to rise sharply

Despite a loss of pastureland, Brazilian beef ship ments will rise by 32 percent, to 2.9 million metric tons by 2017, according to agribusiness consultancy Agra FNP. Higher Brazilian beef production will facilitate the rise in exports, Agra FNP said. It fore casts that cattle numbers will rise from 169.7 mil lion head in 2008 to 183 million by 2017. However, during the same period, pastureland area is expect ed to fall by 42 million acres. Offsetting that loss, according to Agra FNP, will be gains in productivity due to improvements in feed practices (fattening time will fall from 30 months to 26 months within the next four to five years), expansion of feedlots (which will more than double to 6 million animals by 2017), and genetic improvements.

Economy’s impact on meat purchases

According to a study done by consumer products company Unilever using data from more than 47,000 Nielsen homes, a majority of shoppers are willing to pull frozen dinners from their grocery carts, but not fresh meat. The study showed that fresh meat and seafood ranked among the 12 categories that shop pers are least willing to abandon even in the face of a troubling economy. The only other food product to make the list of necessary grocery items was canned vegetables. Other priority items included deodorant, batteries and pet food. The study also found that more than 30 percent of consumers are eating at home more and dining out less, though when con sumers are in the grocery store, they will continue to seek out trusted brands and will not switch to pri vate labels to save money.

News agency apologizes for BSE snafu

Seoul-based Munhwa Broadcasting Company (MBC) has issued a public apology over its erroneous report on the danger of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) which triggered massive protests against the government’s resumption of U.S. beef imports earlier this summer. MBC admitted it made six translation errors in the reporting of a story on the death of a young American woman. The story involved an inter view of the girl’s mother who suspected, according to MBC’s translation, that her daughter succumbed to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of BSE. The network also conceded it mistakenly identi fied images of non-ambulatory cattle as animals infect ed with BSE. The apology followed an order by the Korea Communications Commission, the country’s communications watchdog.