BEEF bits

Aug 21, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

Russia may delist U.S. beef plants

Russia may remove from its list of eligible exporters 15 U.S. beef companies if officials in Washington, D.C., do not supply adequate information to guarantee they meet standards set forward by the Russian government, according to a report by the Interfax News Agency. Russia reportedly sent a new query a few days ago, giving Washington a month to respond. “Earlier, our experts inspected [the companies] and identified flaws,” Sergei Dankvert, head of the country’s food safety watchdog, was quoted as saying. “We asked them to amend them in line with Russian requirements; however, the documents we received speak only of the fulfillment of U.S. requirements.” Dankvert said Russian inspectors are tentatively scheduled to visit the U.S. in late September to conduct an audit of U.S. plants.

Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame

The new Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame inducted its first two members, Paul Engler of Texas and the late W.D. Farr of Colorado, in a ceremony in Denver, CO, last week. The dinner event, sponsored by Intervet/ Schering Plough, preceded the company’s Cattle Feeders Summit, and the audience primarily included cattle feeders who joined the hosts in honoring the two industry pioneers. Dick Farr, Greeley, CO, spoke on behalf of his father, W.D., who passed away two years ago. He reflected on how W.D. was always looking to the future and searching for better ways to do things.

He helped pioneer things cattle feeders take for granted today, such as fence-line feed bunks which allow feeding directly from a truck in the alley rather than pulling a feed wagon into each pen. Dick Farr talked of how W.D. would have been honored to be present at the event in the company of his fellow cattle feeders, but would have been embarrassed by the accolades. He would have been more interested in the presentations during the summit the following day, as his passion was to learn more about cattle feeding.

Beef plant fire being investigated

Fire officials in Omaha, NE, are reportedly investigating a suspicious blaze that damaged the Nebraska Beef Ltd. plant on Sunday, Aug. 16, according to a report by local TV news site The report indicated that lightning may have sparked the fire around 3:30 a.m. as a storm swept through, but fire officials hadn’t confirmed that as a cause. No one was reported injured. According to the report, firefighters arrived and found smoke and flames coming from a third-floor window at the back of the beef plant. The fire was contained to a storage area and caused an estimated $60,000 in damage.

Salmonella persistent in beef cuts

Salmonella is more resistant to heat treatment in whole-muscle beef than in ground meat, according to a new study that also found no difference in resistance among three types of ground products. Scientists at Michigan State University compared whole-muscle, coarsely ground and finely ground beef, and beef puree to evaluate the relationship between thermal resistance of salmonella and beef product structure.

Samples were irradiated to sterility and marinated with a salmonella cocktail. All samples came from the same original lot of beef and had the same thermal history and initial salmonella counts. The study, which appeared in the Journal of Food Science published by the Institute of Food Technologists, found thermal resistance of salmonella was highest in the wholemuscle beef, but there were no differences among the three ground products.

Group stands behind antibiotic use

A group of 20 organizations representing food producers sent a letter to the White House two weeks ago stating the importance of the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry as lawmakers mull a bill that would curb their use in food-producing animals. “Farmers and ranchers strive daily to provide best possible management of their animals through superior genetics, nutrition, veterinary care, housing and handling,” the coalition wrote. “Optimal animal health and welfare leads to production of safe, affordable and abundant food, critical to U.S. food security. Maintaining the health of U.S. herds and flocks requires farmers and ranchers to have all approved safe and effective technologies, including animal health products, available to us.” The coalition also wrote that arguments against the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry, including that such use contributes to an increase in human resistance, are not supported by any conclusive scientific evidence.

Brazilian processors halt merger

Brazilian beef rivals Marfrig Alimentos S.A. and Bertin S.A. have ended merger talks, according to a report by Bloomberg. Bertin has decided to focus on a $1.6 billion five-year plan to nearly double slaughter capacity to 21,000 head per day, the company’s executive director, Fernando Falco, was quoted as saying. “A merger is not currently being discussed,” he said. “We’re focused mainly on organic growth.” The two companies reportedly began merger talks in May amid the global economic recession’s assault on Brazil’s beef export industry. The deal would have created Brazil’s largest beef processing company.