Midwest retailer finds nutrition labeling boosts sales and consumer attitudes about beef. Indiana's Marsh Supermarkets Inc. held a 16-week project to test consumers' responses to fresh-meat nutrition labeling in the meat case at its Marsh and LoBill retail stores. The percentage of consumers who said they believed beef was healthier than they'd previously thought jumped 45% following an on-pack nutrition labeling test project funded by the beef checkoff. Nearly 15% of respondents also said they would be more likely to shop at stores that featured nutrition-labeled meat.

Marsh added a nutrition facts panel into the scale label for beef, veal, pork and lamb. Beef labels emphasized the product was a good source for zinc, iron, protein and many B-vitamins — nutrients that help maintain the immune system, help mental development in children and build muscle. Ground beef labels listed nutrition information for both the raw and cooked product.

Consumers were interviewed before and after they were introduced to on-pack nutrition labels. During the test period, Marsh's beef dollar sales increased by six points, while pound sales were up one point. At LoBill locations, dollar sales were up four points and pound sales rose two points.

Extensive point-of-sale materials, such as posters and shelf signs, supported the labeling test. Participating stores also included information on nutrition labeling in their weekly advertising.
Checkoff News, February 2007

University of Georgia researchers found household steam cleaners can effectively reduce overall bacterial populations on freshly slaughtered beef and hog carcasses in small and very small meat-processing facilities.

Steam treatment significantly reduced the total aerobes, coliforms and Enterobacteriaceae at all three anatomical locations on both beef and hog carcasses. Bacteria populations were tested at the midline, neck and rump for beef carcasses; and the belly, jowl and ham for hog carcasses. Of the 144 carcasses evaluated, five (3.47%) were positive for Salmonella before steam treatment, but all carcasses tested negative for Salmonella after the treatment.

Three anatomical sites on the right half of each carcass were exposed to a 60-second steam treatment while the corresponding left half was left untreated. Samples from 72 beef and 72 hog carcasses were collected before, immediately after, and 24 hours after the steam treatment.

Mean populations of total aerobes, coliforms and Enterobacteriaceae recovered from the three anatomical sites on beef carcasses were 1.88, 1.89, and 1.36 log CFU/cm2, respectively, before the steam treatment; 1.00, 0.71, and 0.52 log CFU/cm2, respectively, immediately after the steam treatment; and 1.10, 0.95, and 0.50 log CFU/cm2, respectively, 24 hours after the steam treatment.

On hog carcasses, the mean populations were 2.50, 2.41, and 1.88 log CFU/cm2, respectively, before the steam treatment; 0.50, 0.94, and 0.21 log CFU/cm2, respectively, immediately after the steam treatment; and 0.91, 1.56, and 0.44 log CFU/cm2, respectively, 24 hours after the steam treatment.
S. Trivedi, et al, Journal of Food Protection, 2007, 70(3):635-640

Pregnancy rate may decrease when minimum temperatures stay above 60° F. Researchers at the University of Nebraska studied the environmental effects on pregnancy rate based on 10 years of records from British-Continental cows managed in southeast Nebraska. An average of 182 cows/year were studied; cows averaged seven years old. Breeding started in late May and lasted to about Aug. 1, with approximately 25 cows/bull.

Environmental variables significantly influencing pregnancy rate were: average daily temperature (AT), minimum daily temperature (MT), wind speed (WS) and temperature-humidity index (THI). MT had more effect on pregnancy rate than AT. Pregnancy rate tended to decrease with higher MT and THI and lower WS. The amount of solar radiation had little effect.

Optimum MT was 55-59° F., increasing as the 60-day breeding season progressed. Optimum THI was 68°F. Reductions in pregnancy rate were likely to occur if MT exceeded 62° F., and THI exceeded 73.
J.L. Amundson, et al, Journal of Animal Science, 2006, 84:3415