BEEF bits

May 27, 2011
by WLJ

BEEF bits

Red meat production falls

Commercial red meat production for the U.S. totaled 3.87 billion pounds in April, down 4 percent from the 4.01 billion pounds produced in April 2010 (which con tained one more week day and one less Saturday than in April 2011). Beef production, at 2.05 billion pounds, was 4 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.72 million head, down 4 percent from April 2010. The average live weight was up 4 pounds from the previous year at 1,257 pounds. Similarly, pork pro duction totaled 1.79 billion pounds, down 3 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.63 mil- lion head, down 5 percent from April 2010. The average live weight was up 4 pounds from the previous year at 277 pounds. Meanwhile, veal production totaled 10.2 million pounds, 8 percent below April a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 58,900 head, down 14 percent from April 2010. The average live weight was up 21 pounds from last year at 296 pounds. Commercial red meat production from January to April 2011 was 16.1 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2010. Accumulated beef pro- duction was up 1 percent from last year, veal was down 4 percent, pork was up 1 percent, and lamb and mutton production down 10 percent.

USDA lowers temperature guidelines

USDA has updated its recommendation for safely cooking pork, steaks, roasts, and chops. USDA recom- mends cooking all whole cuts of meat to 145° F as mea sured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allowing the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or consuming. This change does not apply to ground meats, including ground beef, veal, lamb and pork, which should be cooked to 160° F and do not require a rest time. The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, remains at 165 F. “With a single temperature for all whole cuts of meat and uniform three-minute stand time, we believe it will be much easier for consumers to remember and result in safer food preparation,” said Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen. “Now there will only be three num- bers to remember: 145 for whole meats, 160 for ground meats and 165 for all poultry.”

University unveils beef tracking program

A new pilot program launched at Michigan State University (MSU) aims to help consumers trace the ori- gin of the beef they purchase with their smart phones. Michigan is the only state in the nation to have adopted a mandatory livestock traceability system, which requires all cattle to have a radio frequency identifica- tion (RFID) ear tag before leaving their original farm. MSU researchers said they want to expand the system beyond meat processors and refine tracking methods. They’re currently working with small- and medium- sized processors to coordinate barcodes with product. “By translating RFID ear tags to a barcode, pieces or packages of beef can be labeled with that code, tracing it back to the farm and the individual,” MSU associate animal science professor Dan Buskirk said. He and fel low researchers hope consumers will be able to scan the barcode at kiosks in grocery stores or with a smart phone application, giving them a direct link to informa tion about the farm of origin.

USMEF contributes to Japan recovery

Groups of displaced Japanese citizens ranging from several hundred to more than 10,000 were served meals of U.S. beef and pork in recent weeks through the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Japan Relief and Recovery Effort. Working with Japanese retail and food service industry partners, USMEF is continuing to provide welcome meals to as many people as possible who were left homeless by the March 11 earthquake and the following tsunami. Products pro- vided for the meals range from diced U.S. beef and pork served over rice to pork sausage and cooked pep pered beef that require refrigeration, which are being provided to those who can enjoy fresh-cooked meals at their shelters. The USMEF relief effort was joined recently by the Nebraska Beef Council, which donated $35,000, swelling the campaign coffers to $540,000.

Iowa MBA program reaches milestone

It’s graduation season, and Iowa has more MBA graduates than ever. However, these aren’t your typical Master’s degrees; there’s no purchasing text books or paying tuition for these classes. Recently, Iowa became the newest state in the nation to reach 200 graduates in the Master’s of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program. After a neck-and-neck race with Kentucky, Iowans pulled through and reached this milestone quickly. The MBA program, which is funded by the beef checkoff, began just over two years ago. The MBA program is a self- directed online training program designed to equip beef producers and industry allies with the information they need to be everyday advocates for the beef indus- try. MBA candidates will be required to complete six courses in beef advocacy, including: Modern Beef Production, Animal Care, Beef Safety, Beef Nutrition, Environmental Stewardship, and the Beef Checkoff. To learn more about getting your MBA and to enroll, visit