Food retailers in Canada are labeling beef packages with cooking instructions and grouping beef in the meatcase based on cooking methods. Initial results are positive. According to an article in ProFarmer newsletter, a blade roast is now a blade pot roast; ribeyes are called ribeye grilling steaks and so on.

Monfort has announced its carcass pasteurization program will be implemented in all plants. The program includes steam vacuuming, a sanitizing pre-wash, thermal pasteurization and a final organic rinse. Also, safe handling and cooking labels are now on all primary ground beef containers Monfort sells.

Beef leads in the foodservice industry, according to National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) research. In 1997, there were more than 7 billion servings in commercial restaurants - almost 50% more than chicken's 4.7 billion servings. Casual steakhouse traffic increased 73% since 1993, and steak servings increased 4% in 1997 compared to 1996. Commercial foodservice operations served 5.4 billion burgers last year.

Wal-Mart may be your next grocery store, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The retail giant is planning to build three test stores in Arkansas that will be smaller and more convenient than a typical grocery store. The test stores may include a deli counter, drive-through pharmacy and fresh foods.

The Texas First program, which tracks beef from the cow to the cooler, offered its first source-verified beef for sale in an HEB grocery store in May. Consumers who bought the beef were approached by a Texas A&M graduate student who encouraged them to return a questionnaire on the quality of the beef.

Ideally, the project will reveal if consumers are interested in source-verified beef and may allow packers to determine which ranches produce the highest quality cattle. The program is a cooperative project involving the Texas Beef Council, Allflex USA, Texas A&M, Professional Cattle Consultants and HEB.

The National Beef Cook-Off requests consumers submit recipes by November 9 of this year for the September 1999 contest. A new category includes prepared beef. Branded beef manufacturers may also compete. For more information contact Tami Anderson at 303/850-3441.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a type of fat found in beef and other livestock, can prevent the onset of diabetes in laboratory animals, according to recent checkoff-funded research. Mary Young, NCBA director of nutrition research and information, says this new discovery will give consumers even more reasons why beef should be included in their diets.

Sixty percent of consumers want to know more about the impact of irradiation on bacteria and nutrition, according to a study commissioned by the Food Marketing Institute.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of irradiation for red meat last December.

Here are other stats from the survey.

* Poultry was cited as the No. 1 product for irradiation (67%). Pork and ground beef were slightly lower.

* Consumers stated that the top reason for purchasing irradiated product is to kill disease-causing bacteria.

* Nearly four in 10 parents say they would buy irradiated products for their children; nearly a third of adults say they would buy irradiated products for themselves.

A USDA prototype for automated chicken inspection was recently tested at Tyson Food's poultry processing plant in New Holland, PA. The prototype "views" chickens with a visible and near-infrared light probe and four cameras. It maintained the same 95% accuracy and consistency as in an earlier test. The probe is capable of scanning chickens at line speeds up to 140 per minute.

Cattlemen are making significant management changes for the better, according to a survey of this year's participants in the Ranch to Rail South program. Of the participants surveyed, 73% say they have improved their herd health programs, compared with 38% last year; 53% report they changed bulls to improve the feedyard performance and carcass merit of their calves, up from 43% last year; 47% have changed marketing methods, an 840% increase over the 1997 response of 5%; and 27% say they've changed breeds or improved the uniformity of their cows, up from 19% last year.

A new line of fully-cooked meat items for retail stores, called Minute Main Courses, has been introduced by Kansas-based Flint Hills Foods, Inc. The new products consist of beef pot roast, shredded beef with barbecue sauce, and beef tips and gravy. Each package offers consumers cooking instructions and suggestions for side dishes.

All Minute Main Courses cost less than $6 and can be prepared in less than 10 minutes in a microwave. The Kansas Beef Council is working with Flint Hills Foods to introduce the consumer-friendly products.