March 10, 2003 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 13, Issue 10 Internet website: http://www.southwestmeat.org Edited by Phyllis Zimmerman
FSIS Begins Sampling for AMR Systems
Last Monday the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a regulatory sampling program to
ensure beef products derived from Advanced Meat Recovery (AMR) systems are accurately labeled. AMR is a technology
that removes muscle tissue from beef carcasses without breaking bones. When produced properly, AMR product can
be labeled as “meat.” Previously, FSIS inspectors took regulatory samples of AMR product if they believed that an
establishment was not completely removing spinal cord tissue. Products labeled as “meat” found to contain spinal cord
tissue are considered misbranded under FSIS policy. FSIS today began a routine regulatory sampling of beef products
from AMR systems as outlined in a December directive. FSIS’ new sampling program requires inspectors to test beef
product from AMR systems on a routine basis to verify that spinal cord tissue is not present. If spinal cord tissue is
detected, action will be taken to relabel held product or recall distributed product from commerce. Inspection personnel
also will conduct follow-up sampling to verify that the establishment has taken appropriate corrective action. AMR
production will not be allowed to resume until FSIS determines that those corrective actions have been successful. A
2002 survey of 34 establishments producing beef products from AMR systems to determine the frequency that products
contained central nervous system tissue, including spinal cord tissue, showed that approximately 35 percent of the
final product samples tested positive for central nervous system (spinal cord) and central nervous system-associated
tissues. The survey results provide FSIS with the necessary data to proceed with rulemaking on AMR systems that will
include specifications for the removal of central nervous system and associated tissues. FSIS will seek public comment
on an existing AMR proposed rule before it is finalized.
USDA to Hold Education Sessions Regarding COOL
On March 5, 2003 Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced a series of listening and education sessions in
various parts of the country to gain more public input and provide more information about the new Country of Origin
Labeling (COOL) law contained in the 2002 Farm Bill. “USDA continues to work hard to implement the Country of Origin
Labeling provisions and provide the opportunity for public input from all interested parties,” said Veneman. “It is important
to eliminate confusion to ensure the process doesn’t cause an undue burden on the nation’s food and agricultural
sector.” The Secretary has also directed the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to review recently received public
comments on the voluntary guidelines and initial record keeping cost estimates and update those figures as necessary.
Last year, AMS put in place the voluntary requirements as part of the new law and announced an extended public
comment period to ensure the necessary input was received from all interested parties. The public comment period
recently ended on Feb. 21, 2003. In November 2002, AMS issued an initial and preliminary estimate of record-keeping
costs associated with implementation of the voluntary COOL measures. AMS sought public comment on the estimate
to assess information available about existing models and systems being utilized in various parts of the country and
how this information could be useful as the agency further examines the initial cost estimates and moves forward on
implementation measures. The listening and educational sessions will take place in 12 states representing a cross-
section of the food and agriculture sector, including California, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. AMS will announce specific dates and
locations for these forums in the near future.
S O U T H W E S T M E A T A S S O C I A T I O N
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March 10, 2003/ InfoMeat 2
FSIS Withdraws ANPR on Product Labeling
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is withdrawing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR)
entitled “Product Labeling: Defining United States Cattle and United States Fresh Beef Products,” which was published
in the Federal Register on August 7, 2001. In the ANPR, the Agency requested comments on the need for regulations
to clarify the definition of “United States Cattle” and “United States Fresh Beef Products,” and whether such products
should bear labeling claims that are different from the claims that are permitted under FSIS’ current policy. Under FSIS
policy, beef products made from animals that are documented to have been born, raised, slaughtered and prepared in
the United States are permitted to be labeled as USA products. The country-of-origin labeling provisions (Section
10816) in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill) supplant the issues raised in the ANPR and,
therefore, FSIS is withdrawing the ANPR. All written comments should be submitted to: FSIS Docket Clerk, Docket #
00-036W, Room 102 Cotton Annex Building, 300 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20250-3700.
Inspector Training Tops FSIS Priorities
Speaking at a roundtable session at the National Meat Association convention in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, Dr.
Garry McKee, administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said that training inspectors in HACCP and
other inspection initiatives is the “biggest priority and need in the agency.” “I expect FSIS to be (HACCP) experts,” he
said, adding that there’s a great desire in FSIS field inspectors for training and education. According to McKee, FSIS
will make a coordinated effort to identify appropriate training programs for continuing inspector education, including
industry programs such as those offered by the International HACCP Alliance. “I’m heartened to hear that the industry
wants to work with FSIS for training,” the administrator said. The agency is also working with the U.S. Public Health
Service on training programs. McKee admitted that scheduling time for inspectors to take training course is difficult.
“We don’t have the flexibility to free people up to get training. We’re gridlocked,” he said. Responding to a complaint
that meat and poultry plants are often subject to conflicting FSIS authority and interpretations of regulations delivered
by field inspectors, inspectors-in-charge, consumer safety officers, in-depth verification teams, and other FSIS officials,
McKee said the agency “is in the process of reorganizing some activities. We have to have consistent policy. We don’t
want fiefdoms.” “I want Washington to have the gold standard” for food-safety regulations, the FSIS administrator said.
“I am very interesting in moving forward with the modernization of inspection.” (meatnews.com, 3/5/03)
Harris Receives NMA Professional Award
Dr. Kerri B. Harris, executive director of the International HACCP Alliance, received the 2003 Professional Award from
the National Meat Association (NMA) on Tuesday, March 4 during the NMA Board of Directors Meeting in Las Vegas,
Nevada. The award was given to Harris in recognition of her dedication and valuable service to the meat and poultry
industry. During this year¹s convention, Harris served as a roundtable panelist, speaker, education committee member,
and exhibitor in the NMA MEATXPO. Harris continues to be an invaluable resource for SMA members. She has taught
numerous SMA-sponsored introductory HACCP courses, workshops, and other food safety related programs.
Register now for “Developing &
Implementing HACCP Plans for
the Meat Industry”
to be held at Texas A&M University in
College Station, Texas, March 25-27,
2003, hosted by SMA and the Texas A&M
Department of Animal Science. Registration
forms are available on our website, or by
contacting the SMA office.
Sign up today!
March 10, 2003/ InfoMeat 3
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Briefly . . .
SMA Urges Rejection of User Fees: Today, in a letter to Senator John Cornyn, SMA Executive Director Joe Harris wrote
to urge rejection of the “user fees” proposed by the Bush Administration to pay for meat, poultry and egg products
inspection. The fees are being considered this week by the Senate Budget Committee. The letter stated that such
user fees would adversely affect many small family-owned meat businesses and would “create the perception that
inspectors are being paid by the industries they are supposed to regulate.” SMA members may want to consider
writing to their representatives in opposition to these fees.
FSIS to Host International Food Safety Conference: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will host the
International Meat and Poultry Food Safety Conference on March 27, 2003 to share perspectives on various food safety
issues, discuss strategies to improve food safety worldwide, and serve as a forum for fostering relationships to promote
food safety. The conference will be held at the Pan American Health Organization, 525 23rd Street, NW, Washington,
D.C. For additional information and to register for the meeting, contact Sheila Johnson at: 202-690-6498 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. A tentative meeting agenda will be made available at: www.fsis.usda.gov.
Draft Listeria Risk Assessment Update Available Online: An update of the draft Listeria risk assessment is now
available on FSIS’ web site. This version, which replaces the earlier version posted on February 14, 2003, includes
additional details and findings that were presented at the public meeting on February 26, 2003. Written comments on
the draft risk assessment are due March 14, 2003. Access the updated risk assessment at: www.fsis.usda.gov/
Japan Bans U.S. Poultry Imports: Japan imposed an immediate temporary ban on poultry imports from the United
States last Thursday after a suspected outbreak of avian influenza in Connecticut. Agriculture Ministry official Hiroyuki
Ohtomo said that Ohtomo said Tokyo received a report from the U.S. Embassy earlier Thursday that U.S. health
officials suspect an avian influenza among chickens at Connecticut farm. The ban comes less than three weeks after
Japan lifted a five-month ban on poultry imports from California for a suspected bird flu outbreak. Japan’s poultry
imports from the United States dropped by 35 percent last year, largely because of bird diseases.