BEEF bits

Aug 14, 2009
by WLJ



Mexico may ban ground beef from JBS

Mexican officials have suggested that beef from Greeley, CO-based JBS-Swift be banned after the discovery of E. coli O157:H7 in June. The discovery led to the recall of 380,000 pounds of ground beef derived from beef processed at the plant. The Federal Commission for the Protection of Sanitary Risks has suggested to the country’s secretary of agriculture that it ban further imports from the company until JBS can demonstrate and verify the product’s safety, according to a statement posted on the agency’s Web site. Most of the products recalled were primals and subprimals, though it is likely that some amount was processed into ground beef by downstream customers, leading to the contamination.

Red meat production to fall

Total U.S. red meat and poultry production will be down this year as lower beef and poultry output more than offset higher pork production, USDA said in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. USDA said the lower overall cattle inventory, coupled with the decline in slaughter volume, will serve to limit beef production this year. USDA said it is expecting commercial beef production in 2009 to reach 25.87 billion pounds, down from the 26.29 billion predicted last month. USDA sees beef production falling further in 2010, to 25.14 billion pounds. Total export forecasts for 2009 largely are reduced due to lower expected beef shipments. Weak economic growth this year and tighter beef supplies will lower beef exports to 1.84 billion pounds in 2009 from 1.9 billion pounds forecast last month. Prices for choice steers are reduced to a range of $84 to $86 per cwt. from $84 to $87 per cwt. last month.

GAO: Concentration not affecting prices

The structure of the beef and pork processing industries, among other agricultural sectors, hasn’t negatively impacted commodity or food prices, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report concluded that concentration has occurred at all levels of the food marketing chain in all agricultural sectors since the 1980s, but overall food prices and food prices in each of the five major agricultural sectors have risen nearly as much as prices for consumer goods and services through July 2008. The report states that economic studies do not establish that concentration has adversely affected commodity or food prices. Most of the studies reviewed either found no evidence of market power or found efficiency effects that outweighed the market power effects of concentration. The 2008 rise in commodity and food prices more likely was caused by factors including higher energy costs and growing world demand for grains, experts said.

Veal packer faces charges

Brown Packing Co. pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud last week and will pay a forfeiture of $2 million, according to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee, WI. Three operators of the company have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the case. John A. Oedzes, Brian G. Oedzes and Bryan S. Oedzes each face a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for their role in the company’s use of growth promotants in milk-fed veal calves between December 1997 and May 2004. Products derived from those calves was marketed as having been derived from calves raised with “no hormones,” without “artificial chemical treatment,” and without “irradiation or other foreign treatment processes,” according to court papers. The company also presented “false certifications” to the Food Safety and Inspection Service so that its products containing the substances could be sold over state lines.

Grocer will turn meat to energy

U.K. supermarket company Tesco PLC said last week that it had found ways to divert 100 percent of its waste generated in the U.K. away from landfills—including some 5,000 metric tons of unsold meat from its stores. Tesco said it can use the meat as bioenergy fuel, which is burned by a third-party plant in order to generate electricity. London’s Daily Mail newspaper estimates that it generates enough electricity to power 600 homes for a year. The meatas-fuel initiative is one of several that Tesco undertook as part of its year-long effort to divert all of its waste away from landfills, at least in the U.K. Tesco owns the Fresh & Easy chain of supermarkets, mostly in California and the southwest U.S.

Argentina lifting restrictions

An increase in supply and low domestic prices has prompted the Argentinean government to further ease restrictions on the country’s beef exports, according to Meat and Livestock Australia. Following recent talks with local industry members, Buenos Aires has agreed to accelerate the export certificate approval process and lower meatpackers’ domestic stock requirements to 30 percent from 65 percent. The change gives processors the option of exporting the remaining 70 percent of their total respective supplies. The government will also provide a subsidy for fattening the final 220 pounds of heavy cattle in order to replenish heavy steer production and reduce young cattle slaughter.