BEEF bits

Feb 12, 2010
by WLJ



Newspaper touts beef safety

A cover story in the Feb. 8 USA Today Life section interviewed industry sources on efforts to keep beef safe from E. coli O157:H7. Kansas State University professors James Marsden and Dan Thomson explained beef safety intervention strategies starting at the ranch and continuing through the processing plant. Other sources quoted in the story claimed the industry’s efforts have substantially lowered E. coli levels in beef. Thomson’s work on an E. coli vaccine produced by Epitopix was addressed in the USA Today story. He conducted field trials indicating 86 percent of vaccinated cattle stopped shedding the bacteria. Of the vaccinated cattle still shedding E. coli, there was a 98 percent reduction in the amount.

China cracks down on food safety

China declared a new food safety campaign last week after contaminated products from an earlier scandal showed up repackaged in several places around the country, exposing weaknesses in the country’s promise to stop such problems from happening again. Vice Premier Li Keqiang told the first meeting of a newly established food safety commission that, “We should understand the foundation for the country’s food safety is still weak and the situation is grave,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Li promised to “thoroughly” investigate the re-emergence of milk products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, destroy all the products, and punish those responsible, Xinhua said. The vow came two days after state media reported that officials recalled 170 tons of tainted milk powder in the northern region of Ningxia and said almost 100 tons of the powder had not yet been found. Two dairies were closed.

TBC targets foodservice channel

Through partnerships, promotion and education, the Texas Beef Council (TBC) continues to reach the Texas foodservice industry and secure beef’s place on the menu. For many years, TBC has collaborated with chefs and restaurants to encourage the creation of innovative beef menu ideas. The checkoff’s partnership begins with the some of the nation’s leading beef suppliers, purveyors and foodservice distributors. Through these partnerships, TBC conducts programs such as incentives for growing beef sales, educational seminars, collateral material distribution, and market research to help increase beef’s market share in the foodservice channel.

White House examines child nutrition

First lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign Feb. 9, kicking off an anti-childhood obesity initiative to reach kids at multiple environments, from schools to grocery store shelves. The first lady announced the national campaign shortly after President Barack Obama signed an executive order placing a priority on coordinating efforts by the private sector, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to tackle the issue. The task force is expected to review all federal nutrition programs to develop a long-term plan, according to reports. That includes the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act—expected to be passed within three months—and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it is the most aggressive vehicle for healthful eating to be influenced into schools.

Referendum on bone-in beef sought

A campaign launched in Taiwan by the Consumers’ Foundation will ask consumers in that country if they wish the government to continue to allow imports of U.S. bone-in beef. The proposed referendum will allow citizens to vote to overturn the import regulations which allow shipments of U.S. bone-in beef, ground beef and offal. The vote may come despite the country’s legislative body has blocked ground beef and offal imports from the U.S. after earlier agreeing to accept those products. The Consumers’ Foundation-led initiative passed the first stage last month, collecting 129,000 signatures and far surpassing the required 86,000 from among the 17.32 million eligible voters in the 2008 presidential election. In the second phase, the initiators must secure within six months the endorsement of at least 5 percent, or 860,000, of the eligible voters.

Tyson posts profit

Tyson Foods said last week that the company’s poultry business would generate a full-year operating margin, or percentage of sales, of between 5 percent and 7 percent in fiscal 2010. Tyson’s operating income in the poultry segment was $78 million, or 3.2 percent of sales, in the first quarter of 2010, compared with a loss of $286 million, or -12.8 percent of sales, in same period last year. Tyson’s beef and pork segments continued to boost the business with respective operating incomes of $119 million and $62 million on strong exports and cost-cutting measures. Beef was flat with the year-ago period, while pork operating income was $55 million last year. For the quarter ended Jan. 2, Tyson said net earnings were $160 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with a loss of $102 million, or 27 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales rose 1.7 percent to $6.64 billion.