BEEF bits

Dec 2, 2011
by WLJ

Horse slaughter legal again

Horse slaughter plants have become legal again after Congress lifted restrictions on processing horse meat. President Barack Obama signed the enabling bill on Nov. 18. Entities already are considering opening plants in Oregon, and possibly Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Georgia and Missouri, slaughter plant proponent Sue Wallis says. Between 120,000-200,000 horses will be killed for human consumption/year, she estimates. In coming months, the first couple of plants may open, says Wallis. The Wyoming state representative says her pro-slaughter group “United Horsemen” is working closely with entities to open what she says will be humane slaughter plants. However, plants will have to get state approval and could face court challenges, says Lauren Silverman Simon, a federal lobbyist for the Humane Society of the U.S.

FSIS extends comment period

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has extended its public comment period and will hold a public meeting on the agency’s implementation plans for controlling non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in raw, intact and non-intact beef products and product components. In its Sept. 20 document announcing the plans, FSIS asked for comments on a variety of issues related to non-O157 STECs. That comment period, originally scheduled to end Nov. 21, has been extended to Dec. 21.

Uruguay eyes U.S. beef market

As economic crises befall EU nations, many Uruguayan meat processors are looking toward the U.S., is reporting. “The U.S. offers such advantages to Uruguay as speed and ease at which business transactions are completed,” said Gustavo Dieguez, director of the Meat Processing Industry Association of Uruguay, in an interview with El País. Uruguay is exporting its beef products to more than 100 foreign markets, all while keeping its prices at competitive levels. “Uruguay has a low number of livestock and slaughter rate … this keeps prices relatively stable,” Dieguez affirmed, adding that with Spain’s serious economic problems, other EU countries could face similar situations. “If prices decrease in the EU, they will also go down in other markets,” he concluded.

JBS shares list

A total of 3,864 Brazilian farms were identified by JBS officials as having broken environmental or labor laws, according to a government press release that detailed JBS’ cooperation. Given the questionable nature of these producers’ farming practices, JBS said it avoided purchasing cattle from any of them but found the livestock had been sold to other beef processors. Names of those companies weren’t disclosed to the public, and it is unknown how much of that beef, if any, was exported to other markets. Federal prosecutors say they will investigate names on the list JBS has provided. JBS’ research and mapping efforts are a response to charges by public prosecutors in mid-October that the company had bought cattle from ranchers in Mato Grosso state breaking environmental and labor laws. In an October press release, the company said it hasn’t violated its May 2010 sustainable livestock agreement to not buy cattle from Brazilian ranchers breaking the law, and stressed it has strict controls on its supply sourcing, follows a rigorous sustainability policy, monitors suppliers, and rejects any practices that harm the environment or people.

Implementing E. coli testing

Food safety experts say a vaccine and a feed additive administered to cattle in pre-harvest stages could help to virtually eliminate E. coli from beef products, but costs and who in the supply chain bears them have thus far been prohibitive factors, according to a report by USA Today. “The question is no longer, ‘Can we get the technologies?’ We’ve got them, or they’re soon to arrive. The question is, ‘How do we implement?’” the story quotes Guy Loneragan, a professor of food safety at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, as saying.

Cargill discrimination complaint

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced it has filed an administrative complaint against federal contractor Cargill Meat Solutions alleging that the company systematically discriminated against 4,069 qualified female, white, black, Hispanic and Native American applicants who sought entry-level production jobs at its Springdale facility. The complaint was filed with the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges after OFCCP was unable to secure a fair resolution from Cargill Meat Solutions to pay back wages and interest to the rejected job applicants and extend job offers to at least 167 of the affected workers. OFCCP is seeking to cancel Cargill Meat Solutions’ existing government contracts and debarment from entering into future contracts until the company resolves all violations and corrects its alleged discriminatory employment practices.