The deadline for entering the 2001 Beef Quality Challenge is Nov. 15. At stake is $8,000 in prizes. See the insert in the September issue of BEEF or visit to enter.

In light of recent terrorist actions, producers need to be extra vigilant of their livestock and property. The Texas Animal Health Commission suggests producers:

  • Check livestock regularly. Immediately report signs of disease.

  • Report suspicious activities, intruders or circumstances to local authorities. Be sure to record license plate numbers and descriptions of trespassers.

  • Report sudden, unexplained death loss in the herd, or severe illness affecting a high percentage of animals.

  • Report any blistering around an animal's mouth, nose, teats or hooves; unusual ticks or maggots; or central nervous system disorders that cause an animal to stagger or fall.

The Texas Cattle Feeders Association adds these suggestions:

  • Thoroughly screen new employees.

  • Prohibit unnecessary visitors and ask employees to report unescorted visitors to management.

  • Get license plate numbers on suspicious vehicles.

  • Immediately report suspicious movements to police.

  • Keep and post a list of emergency contacts throughout the operation.

  • Review internal safety and security procedures with all employees.

  • Report all threats, thefts, inventory shortages, vandalism and sabotage to police.

Organic is neither safer nor healthier than conventional or genetically modified (GM) foods. So say researchers with the Swiss Association for Research and Nutrition after an extensive literature search.

Among the findings were:

  • Some studies show that organic foods may contain more fungal toxins than conventionally-produced foods.

  • There are no significant differences in nutritional composition and the effects between conventional and GM feeds fed to animals. And, meat, milk and eggs from animals fed GM feeds are as safe as from animals fed conventional feeds.

  • Field studies with transgenic, pest-resistant crops don't confirm the environmental risks predicted by critics.

  • Transgenic plants are a valid option for a farming approach that sustains resources and protects the environment.

See the entire report at

Fiscal year 2001 was a good one for U.S. Premium Beef (USPB). The beef marketing cooperative reports it processed its 2 millionth animal, surpassed $30 million paid in grid premiums and $50 million in total earnings, while exceeding the $1.8 billion total sales mark.

In addition, USPB says it set a record weekly average premium of $31.28/head and a single lot record premium of $150.55/head. Meanwhile, the average USPB stock price has grown from $54.87/share in fiscal 1998 to $93.25/share in 2001.

The American Heart Association issued a warning on high-protein diets. Named specifically were the Atkins, the Zone, Protein Power, Sugar Busters and Stillman diets.

“Although these diets may not be harmful for most healthy people for a short period of time, there are no long-term studies to support their overall efficacy and safety,” the Oct. 8th science advisory said.

High-protein diets have surged in recent years, with claims that disease risk, obesity and diabetes can be reduced by controlling carbohydrate intake.

Mary Young of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says the group's position has always been that fad diets aren't needed to tell the positive story about beef's “power pack.” The executive director for nutrition says beef has always fit into a healthful diet.

“According to government definitions, a three-ounce serving of beef is an excellent source of five essential nutrients and a good source of four others,” she says. “That's an excellent food all on its own.”

The recipe for Cumin-Crusted Beef Steaks with Orange-Olive Relish was worth $50,000 to a Concord, CA, woman. Priscilla Yee won the 24th National Beef Cook-Off° grand prize with that dish.

The biennial competition is sponsored by the American National CattleWomen and is funded in part by the national beef checkoff. This year's competition focused on convenience and drew nearly 5,000 entrants to compete for $110,000.

The categories included fresh beef, prepared beef, fresh beef and potato, and prepared beef and potato. The entries were rated on taste, ease of preparation and appearance. For a copy of the winning recipes, call 800/848-9088 or visit

Following the lead of the Tyson/IBP merger, Smithfield and Excel recently made moves. Smithfield, the world's largest pork processor, added Packerland Holdings Inc. With the earlier acquisition of Moyer Packing earlier in 2001, Smithfield now ranks as the nation's fifth largest beef packer. Recent rumors had Smithfield eyeing ConAgra, but the price was reportedly too high. Smithfield also added two processed meat firms — Stadler's Country Hams and RMH Foods Inc. — to its holdings in late September.

Meanwhile, Excel acquired Emmpak Foods to nudge ConAgra out of the number-two spot in beef packing capacity.

Questions on this column? Contact Joe Roybal at