Food safety bill
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is calling on Congress to fund the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and pass new meat safety legislation. The bill would require plants that produce the cuts and trimmings that make ground beef to test their products regularly before it is ground and again before all the components are mixed together.
The measure would also require foreign facilities to certify their product has been tested for E. coli to be eligible for importation into the country. The domestic facility receiving the product would be required to verify the results with secondary testing. Gillibrand’s bill aims to reduce “all high-risk pathogens” as well as all unregulated strains of E. coli found in the meat supply “that have been proven to cause food-borne illnesses.”
The 2011 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) is asking producers to complete a short 10-minute survey at www.cattlesurvey.com. Producer input is being sought to get an idea of those quality-based practices being implemented at the farm and ranch level that support consumer confidence in beef products and production systems.
The checkoff-funded NBQA has provided important benchmarks for the U.S. beef industry since 1991. According to Tom Field, executive director of producer education for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the goal is to provide a foundation from which to direct future educational initiatives to improve the competitiveness of beef and beef byproducts.
“By collecting input from cattle producers, we will help consumers and decision influencers better understand beef production and the commitment of cattlemen to produce safe and wholesome beef products,” Field says.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illnesses from E. coli O157 have declined by nearly half over the past 15 years. The information was contained in the report, “Incidence and Trends of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food – Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 1996 – 2010.”
CDC says that in 2010, the rate of O157 illnesses was 0.9 cases/100,000 people, compared with two cases/100,000 people in 1997. The decline reflects improved detection and investigation of outbreaks through the government’s surveillance system, as well as cleaner slaughter methods and improved testing and inspection at ground beef processing plants.
The study also shows U.S. illnesses from the rarer, non-O157 E. coli strains surpassed those from O157 for the first time. Meanwhile, reported illnesses from Salmonella, another common foodborne bacterium, have also increased in recent years.
Jay Carlson, BEEF magazine regional sales manager, was recognized last month by the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) with its Ambassador Award. The award honors a member of the media for efforts in helping cattle producers better understand cattle performance testing and genetic prediction tools. See all the BIF proceedings and other award winners at www.bifconference.com.
Amanda online & in person
If you’re a BEEF Daily subscriber, you’re likely well familiar with the online community Amanda Radke has built over the past three years. Monday through Thursdays, she opines on news, events and trends affecting the U.S. beef industry and exhorts readers to tune in and get involved.
BEEF Daily is a great way to begin your morning but you can also catch Radke in person. Here’s a rundown of some of the South Dakota rancher and writer’s speaking appearances:
- July 11 – Youth Workshop at Limousin Junior Nationals in Amarillo, TX.
- Aug. 25 – Minnesota 4-H Workshop at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul.
- Nov. 10 – Keynote speaker and workshop leader at Women in Agriculture Symposium, Casper, WY.
- Dec. 5 – Workshop leader at Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference, Nebraska Farm Bureau.
BEEF Book Corner
BEEF Book Corner “Ranching With Wyatt West”
W. Todd Lindsay is a middle-school teacher and former FFA instructor promoting beef and teaching children the importance of ranching via his character, Wyatt West. Aimed at youth in grades 4-8, “Ranching With Wyatt West” depicts life growing up and working on a southern New Mexico ranch. It promotes rural living, family values and the ranching way of life. “Ranching With Wyatt West” is available at Authorhouse, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon (ISBN – 978-1-4520-8341-4). You can contact the author for book signings or more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.