BEEF bits

Feb 17, 2012

Mexico beef exports to Russia increase

Since opening beef and horse meat export to Russia in 2010, Mexican export has been growing. In 2010, Mexico exported 3,848 tons of beef to Russia. In 2011, that number jumped to 28,541 tons. This increase in trade volume has come on the heels of the Russian Federal Veterinary Control Service authorizing additional inspection plants in two Mexican states. All told, Mexico has 11 beef plants and four horse plants authorized by the Russian Service. Considering Mexico is one of the top importers of U.S. beef, the Mexican-Russian relationship is something to consider.

JBS said to lease four slaughterhouses

Inside anonymous sources in JBS SA—the world’s biggest beef packer—say the company is seeking to lease four slaughterhouses in Brazil. The plants are said to have a combined daily capacity of 3,050 head and are being leased by Guapore Carne. JBS SA currently has 62 plants that have a combined daily capacity of 87,290 head. Officials at the company declined to comment on media requests for details on the current deal, citing internal policy and on-going private negotiations.

Meat products recalled in California

AA Meat Products Corp. of Maywood, CA, is recalling an as yet undetermined amount of meat and poultry products due to lack of federal inspection. Most of the affected products are non-muscle cuts such as beef tripe, tongue, beef fat, pork uteri and feet (duck, chicken and pig), though some of the recalled products are more mainstream cuts such as pork chops and beef short ribs. Recalled products range in production dates as far back as March 2011. Some of the recalled products—the uteri and feet—were inspected but improperly packed with sodium percarbonate.

Australia breeding to reduce methane

Australian researchers are looking into a way to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions with an old fashioned strategy: selective breeding. Early research results show that genetics play a part in the methane emissions of individual animals. Researchers have been testing Angus bulls trying to identify those which naturally produce less methane, identify the trait and hope to develop low-methane bloodlines. Other areas of interest include understanding the relationship between methane emissions in beef cattle and production traits.

Taiwan pulls beef for ractopamine

Health department officials in Taiwan have pulled U.S. beef from store shelves for the second time in two months after discovering traces of the drug ractopamine, which is banned in Taiwan, China and the European Union, according to local media reports. The contaminated beef ribs were supplied by the same food importer, which may face a fine of more than $200,000 for violating Taiwan’s Act Governing Food Sanitation. Health officials in Taipei found traces of the ractopamine, which promotes lean muscle growth in animals, in three of 24 samples of U.S. beef and ordered the meat pulled from stores in the capital city last month. The U.S. is among 26 nations that have declared ractopamine safe. Taiwan’s local cattle and pig farmers reportedly are threatening to stage a protest in the capital city this month if the government in Taipei bows to U.S. pressure to ease restrictions on the drug. The farmers are being supported by Taiwan’s Consumers’ Foundation in their efforts to maintain the ractopamine ban.

FSIS delays ‘Big Six’ E. coli policy

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said last week it will extend the implementation date for conducting routine sampling of six additional serogroups of non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The implementation date is now June 4, according to the North American Meat Processors Association. The extension will allow additional time for processors to validate their test methods and detect these pathogens prior to entering commerce. FSIS will initially sample raw beef manufacturing trimmings and other raw ground beef product components produced domestically and imported, and test the samples for the serogroups (O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145). On Sept. 13, 2011, USDA announced it will prohibit from sale into commerce raw ground beef found to contain those serogroups.

Idaho animal torture bill goes to senate

The Idaho Senate Agricultural Committee last week cleared a bill that defines “animal torture” and would make three offenses over 15 years a felony with a vote of eight to one. The bill was brought by the Idaho Cattle Association and the Idaho Wool Growers Association and will now move on to the state’s full senate. Under the proposed bill, agricultural practices would be exempt and the language specifies “intentional and malicious infliction of pain, physical suffering, injury or death upon an animal,” is the target. If passed, the bill would remove Idaho from the current list of three states—the other two being the Dakotas— which lack felony-level animal welfare laws.