BEEF bits

Jul 2, 2010
by WLJ


California welcomes new packing plant

The building that was formerly home to the Paso Robles Meat & Sausage Company in Paso Robles, CA, has been purchased out of bankruptcy court by The Hearst Corporation. Hearst is leasing the shuttered plant to Kaney Foods, a well-known foodservice com- pany operating in San Luis Obispo County since 1955. Kaney plans to reopen the plant in late July as White Stone Meat Packing. The sale was approved earlier in June in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Santa Barbara, CA. The meat-processing facility had been in receiver- ship since June 2009 and was closed by the court last March. The facility is now USDA-certified and will provide quality butchering and custom cut-and-wrap services for the local ranch community, wild game hunters, and local fairs. The Hearst Corporation has been in the cattle business since 1865 and produces grass-fed beef on ranches in San Simeon, CA, and Cholame, CA.

China to allow Canadian beef

China has lifted a ban on imports of Canadian beef, making Canada the first among countries affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy to regain market access in that country, according to a statement posted on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s web site. The two sides agreed to a staged opening of China’s beef market beginning with Canadian bone- less beef derived from animals younger than 30 months of age as well as beef tallow for industrial use. Access to the Chinese market for these products is estimated to be worth $110 million, according to the Canadian Beef Export Federation.

HSUS takes aim at Ohio again

Ohioans for Humane Farms, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said it has more than enough signatures to put an animal- housing initiative to state voters in the fall. The group said it expected to turn in the required 500,000 signa- tures ahead of the end-of-June deadline. The group is asking voters to support a constitutional amendment that would require new animal housing standards giv- ing egg-laying hens, pregnant sows and veal calves more room to move around in their enclosures.

Study links meat with reduced cancer risk

A recent European study found significantly lower levels of lung cancer in people whose blood contained higher amounts of compounds found in poultry and meat. Regardless of smoking habits, people with above average amounts of vitamin B6 and methionine (an amino acid) in their blood faced less than half the risk of developing lung cancer as compared with participants with below average levels. Vitamin B6 is found in meat, fish, potatoes and whole grains, while methionine occurs in meats, fish, seeds, nuts and cereals. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined blood samples from nearly 2,670 volunteers who were free of cancer at the beginning of the study. Researchers tracked cancer incidence for an average of five years. The research is part of the EPIC study—European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition—of 520,000 European volunteers, the largest study of diet and nutrition in the world.

Grass-fed faces supply problems

Consumers increasingly are pushing for beef from forage-based production systems, but solutions will be required to address those systems’ current constraints, USDA said. In its monthly Dairy, Livestock and Poultry report, USDA noted that the difference in terms of production methods between grass-fed and grain-fed calls into question the feasibility of the former’s proliferation. A key issue, according to USDA, is the time it takes to produce a high-quality, grass-finished product, and the costs associated especially with supplying animals with large amounts of feeds that generally are in shorter supply than conventional feeds such as corn. USDA said continued growth in niche-market demand will require some tradeoffs, many of which portend higher production costs and reduced beef supplies.

Ethanol industry improving efficiency

Net energy gain from converting corn to ethanol is improving in efficiency, according to a new USDA report based on data collected in 2005 and 2008. The report is the result of a survey of corn growers for the year 2005 and of ethanol plants in 2008. The survey asked ethanol producers to respond to questions about ethanol yield (undenatured) per bushel of corn and energy used in the plants. The 2008 updates presented in the report recorded the effects of current practices used by corn producers and ethanol processors. According to the report, overall, ethanol has made the transition from an energy sink, to a moderate net energy gain in the 1990s, to a substantial net energy gain in the present.