Beef Bits

Nov 1, 2013
by WLJ

Taiwan finds zilpaterol in CO beef

Taiwanese food import inspectors have stepped up their scrutiny of beef from the U.S. after imports were found containing residues of zilpaterol. The feed additive, which improves feed consumption and weight gain when administered in the last weeks before slaughter, is banned in many Asian countries including Taiwan. The commercial product containing zilpaterol—Zilmax—has effectively been de facto banned in the U.S. with many of the major packers and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange having announced in summer that they would no longer accept cattle fed Zilmax. The product’s producer has also halted sales of it, pending an investigation of claims the product negatively impacts cattle welfare. The beef found with residues came from the JBS plant in Greeley, CO.

Farming video game

Video gamers will soon have the chance to grow their own livestock operation instead of slaying zombies and crushing candy. Farming Simulator, a game for PlayStation 3 and Xbox360, is already out in Europe and Asia and will be released in North America Nov. 19. The game is already available for PC. Gameplay includes breeding chickens, cattle and sheep and selling animal-based products. The game mimics modern agriculture in an open world, with large fields—and a fleet of what the developers describe as “authentic” vehicles to use in them—in a new, American gameplay environment that complements the existing European landscape. Farming Simulator was developed by Giants Software and published by Focus Home Interactive.

“American Serengeti” buying ranches

A massive, decade-long undertaking is buying up ranches and tearing out fences in Montana. In the exceedingly direct conservation effort, a collective of vastly wealthy conservationists and donors are building a quasi-private reserve measuring in the hundreds of thousands of acres. Currently, the group—American Prairie Reserve—owns 58,000 acres outright and holds the grazing leases on 215,000 acres of federal land. They are running bison on the property and trying to return the landscape to as wild a state as possible. Neighboring ranchers are skeptical and avoid selling to the group, saying they want to keep their land in agricultural production.

Potential grouse listing in two states

As part of a lawsuit settlement with the Center for Biologic Diversity (CBD), The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed Endangered Species Act protections for a “bi-state population” of Greater Sage Grouse in Nevada and California. CBD petitioned to have the population listed in 2005, calling it isolated and “genetically unique.” The proposal is a part of a settlement of a lawsuit that followed the petition. Along with the proposed listing, 1.86 million acres of the bi-state territory has been proposed as critical habitat. The public has 60 days to comment on the move. Expect more on this story in the near future.

New Mercy for Animals video

A new undercover video released by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals has been called an example of poor husbandry by an expert animal welfare panel. The expert panel, part of an effort by the Center for Food Integrity, is tasked with reviewing undercover videos and communicating to the public what, if any, actual abuses are going on. In many cases the reviewers dismiss videos as overly-edited and depicting standard, accepted practices that are likely alien to non-ag audiences. Much of this most recent video, however, captured at a Minnesota hog farm, was similarly dismissed. However, some scenes showed evidence of improper training of employees. Experts said the behavior of some employees showed improper animal handling training and a poor attitude regarding the needs of the pigs. They noted that, while the manner of euthanasia of piglets was a heavy focus, more troubling was the fact the piglets being euthanized were in such poor health they should have long since been put down. According to the hog facility, the offending employee has since been fired for not upholding the farm’s humane handling procedures.

More horse in British beef

Horse meat has again been found in products labeled as beef in the UK. Some “tinned beef” products produced in Romania and exported to the UK were found to have horse DNA in inspection tests. Wider tests on the batch from which the first positive was found was discovered to contain 1 to 5 percent horsemeat. Food safety officials in the UK said, however, that no traces of bute, a common name for a frequently-used painkiller in horses, was detected.