BEEF bits

Aug 12, 2011
by WLJ

AMI says U.S. turkey supply is safe

The American Meat Institute (AMI) offered reassur- ances about U.S. turkey safety following news of a ground turkey recall. “The U.S. turkey supply has an excellent safety record,” said AMI Executive Vice President James H. Hodges. Hodges said the turkey industry uses a preventive approach that includes a series of food safety “hurdles” on-farm throughout pro cessing plants to reduce the likelihood that harmful bacteria, which occurs naturally in livestock and poultry, will end up in a finished product. Turkey plants operate under oversight from USDA inspectors who monitor compliance with federal rules. While much progress has been made in reducing bacteria like Salmonella on turkey products, at this point, there is no way to eliminate it 100 percent of the time, which is why food safety strategies must continue in restaurant and home kitchens.

Canada Beef Inc. elects officers

Following a two-day meeting held July 26 and 27, 2011, in Calgary, Alberta, the newly-formed Canada Beef Inc. (CBI) announced that it is now positioned to move forward with the business of marketing Canadian beef in the domestic and international mar kets. The meeting saw the inaugural board of directors of CBI elect its board chair and officers. Brad Wildeman, a feedlot operator from Lanigan, Saskatchewan, past president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and a co-chair of the Canada Beef Implementation Team tasked with getting CBI up and running, was elected as board chair.

Packer files lawsuit over recall

Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. filed a federal lawsuit against an Omaha, NE, meatpacking plant which it says supplied tainted beef that sickened dozens of people. Cargill says it bought beef trimmings from Greater Omaha Packing Company Inc. and turned them into ground beef for sale to the public. About 845,000 pounds of the beef was voluntarily recalled in August 2007 after four Minnesota children got sick from E. coli. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha says Greater Omaha Packing violated the terms of its sales agreement with Cargill by providing bad meat. The lawsuit requests a jury trial and seeks unspecified monetary damages to cover the costs of the recall, lost profits, damage to reputation, and attor- neys’ fees.

FDA reopens ‘gluten-free’ comments

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reopen- ing the comment period for the proposed rule on the “gluten-free” labeling of foods. FDA tentatively con- cluded in the 2007 proposal that foods containing less then 20 ppm of gluten, could be labeled as gluten-free. FDA is seeking comments on its tentative conclusions that the safety assessment-based approach may lead to a conservative, highly uncertain estimation of risk to individuals with celiac disease associated with very low levels of gluten exposure, and that the final rule should adopt the proposed rule’s approach to defining the term “gluten-free” because that approach takes into account the availability of reliable analytical methods and also considers other practical factors related to the needs of individuals with celiac disease and their food consumption. Written or electronic comments must be submitted by Oct. 3, 2011.

Call for action on bans on U.S. beef

A group of more than 30 U.S. senators have called on U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to pull out the stops to remove the trade barriers imposed by Japan and China on U.S. beef. In a letter to the two officials, the senators, led by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Sen. Pat Roberts, the committee’s ranking member, say that it is critical that the USTR and USDA keep up high-level pressure to get the barriers removed. In all, 39 senators signed the letter that also urged speedy action to resolve the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea and ease trade relations with the country.

Cargill profits surge

Cargill reported last Tuesday its annual profit rose 35 percent in fiscal 2011 to $2.69 billion. However, earnings during the final quarter of its fiscal year fell 7 percent. Fourth-quarter consolidated revenues were $34.8 billion, a 32 percent increase from $26.3 billion in the year-ago period. Full-year consolidated revenues were $119.5 billion, up 18 percent from $101.3 billion in the prior year. Cash flow from operations was $4.6 billion compared with last year’s $3.3 billion. Food ingredients, the segment that includes Cargill’s meat operations, increased earnings in both the fourth quarter and the full year. The segment benefitted from a mix of factors such as higher sales volumes, effective risk management, improved yields and more valueadded offerings, Cargill said.