BEEF bits

Apr 24, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

Meat link to heart health not clear

Insufficient evidence associates the consumption of meat, eggs or milk to having a significant impact on heart health, according to a study which reviews the results of nearly 200 other scientific studies. The research, which appears in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, evaluates 189 prior studies of the links between dietary factors and coronary heart disease. “These findings support a causal relationship between only a few dietary exposures and coronary heart disease, whereas the evidence for most individual foods is too modest to be conclusive,” says the report.

Vegetables, nuts and the Mediterranean diet, however, are identified among the few foods with “strong evidence” that they are good for the heart.

Non-ambulatory ban now in effect

The final rule, issued first by USDA during the Bush administration, amends the federal meat inspection regulation to require all cattle that become non-ambulatory at any time before harvest, including those that become non-ambulatory after passing ante-mortem inspection, be condemned and properly disposed of. As of April 17, these cattle will be tagged “U.S. Condemned” by the Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors and may not be harvested. The rule allows custom operators to process, for their own use, any cattle that become non-ambulatory after being delivered to the processor, provided no conditions that would make the animal unfit for human consumption exist. Under that exception, meat from these animals would be restricted to the producer’s personal use.

McDonald’s Angus burger debuts

McDonald’s Corp. began testing a one-third-pound Angus burger in March 2007 in select cities and plans to introduce it nationally this fall, according to an internal McDonald’s memo received by the Chicago Tribune. The article says the new item may be used as a promotional product, like the McRib sandwich, and could become a permanent menu item if it does well. Irwin Kruger, a New York City McDonald’s franchise owner who has been serving the Angus burger since 2007, said the product has “been very well received” by the public.

Better food safety not in FDA budget

Despite efforts in Congress to make significant changes to improve food safety, what changes should be made haven’t been agreed upon. According to Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, a food safety “overhaul” is needed. Chambliss, although praising USDA efforts to oversee meat safety, points to under-funding of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and lack of needed resources as key issues. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-MN, agreed with Chambliss’ assessment of FDA. “The problem is in the FDA,” Peterson said. Congress needs to either combine food safety divisions of the USDA and the FDA, or leave them separate and make dramatic changes to the FDA, Peterson said, although he expressed doubts that FDA’s food division is salvageable.

USPB reports second quarter results

U.S. Premium Beef ‘s (USPB) financial results from the second quarter of fiscal year 2009, ending Feb. 28, 2009, are much improved compared to the same period last year. A net income of $31.4 million was recorded for this year in comparison to a net loss of $7.6 million for the same period in fiscal year 2008. “Our company’s net sales were higher in the year-to-date period than those of the prior-year period primarily due to a relatively small increase in the average sales prices per head which was partially offset by fewer cattle being processed in the current year,” USPB CEO Steve Hunt said. “A relatively stable demand for beef products allowed the sales prices to cover the cost of the live cattle that we processed during the first half of the fiscal year.”

Veal retail campaign going strong

The Veal Made Easy Sweepstakes, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, launched Jan. 26 and with just three weeks left in the campaign, has already exceeded its goal. As of March 31, more than 200,00 entries have been generated, with more than 18,000 consumers signed up to receive e-mails with veal recipes and special offers. The sweepstakes prize of a year’s worth of free groceries is part of an integrated retail campaign promoting veal which also includes a Fox TV and Web site promotion. “We were surprised by the number of consumers who opted to receive e-mails from us,” said Ray Krones, chairman of the Joint Veal Committee. “Already, nine chains and 960 stores have participated, with over a half a million recipe stickers distributed.”