Three companies have recently earned the beef checkoff's Mark of Quality for new beef products. The products include:

  • Four products from Maverick Ranch® — Beef Pot Roast, Beef Chuck Filet in Burgundy Mushroom Sauce, Flatiron Beef Steak in Sherry and White Wine Sauce and Southwest Style Meatloaf;

  • Three products from Tyson® — Flat Iron Griller Top Blade Steaks, Medallion Roast Shoulder Tender Steaks and Mesquite Flavored Shoulder Center Steaks;

  • And one product from Schwan's — Pot Roast.

Incidentally, the Schwan's® Pot Roast product is critiqued by the BEEF Taste Test team on page 20 of this issue.

The new product approvals bring the total number of products approved to carry the beef industry's Mark of Quality to 63. To earn the special seal, beef products must deliver great beef taste, as well as accurate on-pack preparation and safe food handling instructions, nutritional information and manufacturer contact information; correct product names and UPC coding; and manufacturers must offer a consumer satisfaction guarantee. Use of the Mark is overseen by the Cattlemen's Beef Board and managed under contract to the Board by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

McDonald's posted its first-ever quarterly loss in the fourth quarter of 2002. That broke a 47-year streak of quarterly gains for the world's leading food service retailer.

The Oakbrook, IL,-based firm is engaged in a tooth-and-nails battle with its competitors for domestic market share in the face of slow overseas growth caused in part by outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Japan and BSE and foot-and-mouth disease in Europe.

In November, the company announced a series of cost-cutting measures that included closing 175 under-performing restaurants and cutting 600 jobs, and scaling back its expansion plans. And in early December, the firm reshuffled its senior management.

Meanwhile, Burger King announced in mid-December that its acquisition by a group of investors led by Texas Pacific Group had been revived. The new purchase price, however, was $1.5 billion, significantly less than the original agreed-on price of $2.3 billion.

Major retail chains are adding automobile fueling stations. The goal of adding store-location gas stations, reports, isn't so much to generate profit from fuel sales as to use the convenience to attract customers away from competitors and convenience stores. Food retailing giant Kroger, for instance, was operating 75% more fuel centers at its stores at the end of 2002 than the year before, adding 150 fuel centers just this year. Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of the Costco units in the United States sell gasoline.

An Internet-based beef quality assurance (BQA) certification course is now available in both the IQ+BEEF preconditioning and Five State Beef Initiative (FSBI) programs. Find the course at The online course fee is $10, or $25 including a resource manual.

IQ+BEEF is the Web-based educational program for the FSBI, which includes Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky. FSBI is a cooperative effort of land-grant universities, state cattlemen's associations, state departments of agriculture, Farm Bureaus and livestock marketing co-ops. For more information, call 888/398-4636 or visit the Web site.

Adult men and women ages 25-54 are the targets of the beef industry 2003 advertising program that began last month. The goal of the checkoff-funded, $13.4-million program of television and print advertising is to stoke consumer passion for beef and encourage consumers to add at least one more beef meal to their diets/week.

The campaign began with a four-week flight of ads on network TV and cable stations. Other flights will follow in March and May. Meanwhile, print advertising will appear in major national magazines to complement the television ads and refer readers to for special recipes and information about beef.

In mid- to late-summer, a print nutrition element will be added. It's intended to reduce the barriers some consumers have to beef consumption due to nutrition issues.

Thus far, 47,665 people have signed a petition calling for the Internal Revenue Service to strip tax-exempt status from People for the Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA). The petition, available for signing at, calls on the IRS to review or revoke the tax-free status because PETA supports terrorist activities.

The petition states that PETA has collected more than $10 million/year in donations over the last five years, claiming the donations go to help animals. But it's been discovered that the organization donated funds to the Earth Liberation Front, a group the FBI considers the number-one domestic terrorist threat in the United States.

For more on PETA and other such groups, go to