BEEF bits

Aug 6, 2010
by WLJ

Canadian beef plant issues recall

Canadian sausage and deli meat maker G. Brandt Meat Packers Ltd. closed its plant in Mississauga, ONT, last week and recalled 120 ready-to-eat products after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a health hazard alert warning consumers the products may be contaminated with foodborne pathogens. The recall and the plant shutdown are precautionary. None of these products have tested positive for pathogens, nor have there been any reported illnesses associated with them, the company said. The company said the plant is being closed for sanitation and could be down for at least two weeks. Product testing is ongoing. On July 22, Brandt voluntarily recalled all flavors of Brandt Headcheese products, which were associated with six illnesses.

AMIF reaffirms safety of meat

The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) said a study published in the journal Cancer that links nitrite and nitrate intake from processed meats to a potential increased risk of bladder cancer is the latest example of “nutrition whiplash” facing consumers. AMIF President James Hodges said the study creates needless confusion rather than providing clarity to the complex issue of diet and its effect on health. Hodges emphasized that processed meat continues to be part of a healthy, balanced diet, and nutrition decisions should be based on the total body of evidence—not on one study that stands in contrast to the full body of research. The study erroneously perpetuates the myth that cured meats are the main source of ingested nitrite. The fact is that less than 5 percent of ingested nitrite comes from cured meats. Ninety-three percent comes from vegetables like lettuce, spinach, celery, cabbage and beets and from our own saliva. In fact, research conducted in the last 20 years had concluded that the body makes nitrite as part of its healthy, normal nitrogen cycle.

New cuts provide affordable alternatives

As we wind our way through summer and into fall tailgating season, family life often centers around the family grill. The financial challenge of fulfilling the protein portion of the plate, coupled with increased focus on high-quality food, creates a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the innovative strides made by beef researchers. Of most noted success is the flat-iron steak. This highly marbled cut has been shown to be very tender and suited to grilling. Data from the Beef Innovations Group, a part of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, aiming to help the industry increase the value and demand for beef, confirms this. Sales of the flat-iron cut increased by 96 percent to an estimated 92 million pounds for a one-year span ending in August of 2006. Additionally, it was estimated that the number of retailers offering such value cuts increased ninefold in the same time period.

“Super-local” products introduced

Panorama Meats, Inc., the nation’s largest producer of USDA Certified Organic and 100 percent grass-fed and finished beef, has developed a unique program that brings beef raised on its Marin County, Napa County and Sonoma County ranches directly to Whole Foods stores in those three counties. Whole Foods Market’s new Blithedale store in Marin County, which opened on June 5, became the first store in the region to carry the super-local beef, which is raised at Lunny Ranch in Inverness and Diamond W Ranch in Petaluma and is also processed locally in Merced. The beef is being rolled out to the remaining Whole Foods stores in Marin County, Napa County and Sonoma County during the next few months.

USDA releases workshop details

USDA and the Department of Justice announced details for the Aug. 27 public workshop in Fort Collins, CO, which will examine competition in the livestock industry. The workshop will be held at Colorado State University, the main ballroom of the Lory Student Center, 1101 Centre Avenue Mall, Fort Collins. Attendance is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending should register at The workshop will begin with opening remarks from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. After opening remarks, Vilsack and Holder will participate in a roundtable discussion with Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Christine Varney. There will also be public testimony from those attending the workshop and panels will feature ranchers, academics, processors and other industry representatives.

Grandin gets Lifetime Achievement Award

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association awarded Temple Grandin its coveted Lifetime Achievement Award on July 31, 2010, at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, CO. Grandin is a world-renowned designer of livestock handling facilities, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, and one of the world’s most functioning autistics. The HBO production on Grandin’s life afforded her the opportunity to make many appearances in Hollywood. She said the public’s curiosity about livestock handling is an opportunity for ranchers to tell their story.