BEEF bits

Mar 12, 2010
by WLJ

R-CALF: BSE case went unreported

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America announced last week that it had found evidence that the 18th case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada went unreported to authorities for more than two weeks after it was discovered in a 6-year-old cow. Canadian officials were purported to have notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) last week; a phone call last week to OIE revealed that Canada had not yet notified OIE of this latest discovery. However, R-CALF USA Communications Coordinator Shae Dodson was told via telephone by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that Canada, indeed, had discovered yet another case of BSE. USDA later verified CFIA’s report.

Bone-in beef returns to Taiwan

U.S. bone-in beef made a splashy return to Taiwan last month at a trade reception and products show for 80 guests representing importers, restaurateurs, retailers and the trade at the five-star Sherwood Taipei Hotel. Funded by the Texas Beef Council, the beef checkoff and USDA Market Access Program funds, the Feb. 25 event highlighted the versatility of U.S. beef, which was featured in Chinese-style dishes along with Thai-style chuck tender salad, braised chuck short ribs, baked garlic flavored bone-in short ribs and OP ribs. Taiwan ranked among the leading destinations for U.S. beef exports in 2009, importing a total of 27,257 metric tons (60 million pounds) of beef muscle cuts and variety meat valued at more than $141 million. While the volume of imports remained level with 2008, the value of the imports rose 11 percent.

Leaders address concerns with show

According to the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), KLA Executive Vice President Dee Likes and American Angus Association CEO Bryce Schumann met recently with the executive committee at the American Royal to express concern over the show’s planned emphasis on a locally produced food program slated for this year’s show. The concern about the planned Good Food Good Futures Institute stems from the stated initiative to “reorganize agriculture” by moving away from conventional production and more toward natural, organic and more “environmentally sustainable” operations. The beef groups told American Royal leaders that mainstream ranchers and feeders don’t oppose natural, organic or locally produced systems, but they are concerned when marketers disparage conventional meat and agricultural products in an effort to create differentiation.

Congress takes up animal welfare

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week would require the federal government to consider a set of animal welfare parameters when making food purchasing decisions. The bill, introduced by Rep. Diane Watson, D-CA, and Elton Gallegly, R-CA, would restrict the purchase of food items by the armed forces and other U.S. agencies to items raised under standards of care similar to those set forward in California’s Proposition 2 which bans the use of confinement crates and cages for poultry, veal and hogs. The bill could impact more than $1 billion in purchases made by the federal government and have the impact of passing Prop 2-like regulations in all 50 states, a move which was applauded by the Humane Society of the United States.

Russia to resume pork imports

The U.S. is set to resume shipments of pork to Russia after an agreement was reached to normalize trade March 5. The dispute began after pork imports were halted last December over concerns among Russian officials about antibiotic residue. The new export certificate covering the 13 banned plants addresses those concerns, USDA officials said. The Russian market was worth $257 million for the pork industry last year, which depends heavily on exports to absorb about 20 percent of U.S. production. For beef producers, when competing meats find closed markets, the excess supply drives down prices which, in turn, impact beef’s ability to compete. There was no agreement on poultry imports which were banned by Russia over concerns about chlorine rinses.

South Korea tracking imported beef

South Korea has launched a new tracking system for beef imported into the country in order to provide origin information to consumers, according to the country’s Yonhap News. The system has been implemented on a trial basis to provide information about the shelf life, origin and whether the meat was frozen during shipment. The system is scheduled to be fully functional and mandatory for all imports by the end of the year. Yonhap News cited recent polls showing that 91 percent of Korean consumers favor a tracking system so they can make informed choices while purchasing beef imports.