BEEF bits

Aug 28, 2009
by WLJ

BEEF bits

No difference in E. coli susceptibility

Researchers from Kansas State University released findings stating organic and naturally raised beef are no different than conventionally raised cattle in reference to E. Coli susceptibility according to The findings in the journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, showed a 14.8 percent prevalence rate of E. coli O157:H7 in organically raised and 14.2 percent in naturally raised cattle.

These levels are even with rates found in conventionally raised cattle. The increased demand for natural and organic products has forced cattle producers to change the way they operate. Many of the changes have increased production costs.

Tyson settles wastewater case

Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. has agreed to pay a $2,026,500 civil penalty to resolve wastewater issues that occurred years ago at its Dakota City, NE, beef plant, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced. The settlement ends Tyson’s dispute with the federal government over violations of a 2002 consent decree and a federally issued pollution discharge permit.

Tyson Foods Inc. issued a statement saying it has worked with state and federal agencies to resolve the wastewater issues, and that the facility’s wastewater treatment system is operating effectively.

Burger King profit grows

Burger King Holdings Inc. said its fiscal fourthquarter profit rose, even though revenue fell for the first time since the company became public in 2006, because diners visited the fast-food chain less often and spent less when they did. Despite the 2.4 percent decline in revenue for the April-through-June period, the nation’s No. 2 burger chain still managed to top profit estimates thanks to its cost-cutting efforts in the U.S., the company said last Tuesday.

The news sent shares up more than 10 percent. For the three months that ended June 30, Burger King earned $58.9 million, or 43 cents per share. That compares with a profit of $50.6 million, or 37 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue dipped to $629.9 million, down from 645.7 million.

Animal welfare advisory group formed

A recent move by industry leaders has led to the formation of a new advisory group which will focus on beef cattle health and well-being. The North American Food Animal Well-being Commission for Beef, which includes 21 inaugural members selected for their expertise in animal care and handling, has several goals which are aimed at improving conditions for cattle. Dan Thomson, Jones professor of production medicine and epidemiology at Kansas State University, and Joseph Stookey, professor of applied ethology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, will serve as commission co-chairs.

“People across the country are looking for more information on animal care and handling, and we’re eager to share our story with them,” said Thomson.

“This new partnership brings an impressive wealth of experience and expertise to the table to help bolster ongoing research and education in the area of cattle care.”

No relief in sight for pork industry

An analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, last week, downgraded the outlook for Smithfield Foods, saying there is little evidence that a recovery for the hog industry is on the horizon. The analyst based her comments on the fact that foreign and domestic demand remains weak and there is no sign of significant sow-herd reduction. That analysis led to a cut in earning expectations for the next two years. A lack of significant improvement in the pork markets will continue to limit meaningful gains in the beef complex as pork remains attractively priced, compared to beef, for struggling consumers.

Creekstone plant loses access to Taiwan

Taiwanese officials have suspended shipments of beef from Creekstone Farms’ plant in Arkansas City, KS, after finding bones in a shipment of beef from the plant, according to USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service. Although officials from the U.S. and Taiwan have been in talks to expand imports, current regulations allow only boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age to be shipped to the country. Creekstone officials said they are working to resume imports in cooperation with USDA and the company has implemented “necessary corrective actions” to resolve the issue.