Industry Meeting on COOL Successful:
Representatives from the livestock and meat industries met in Kansas City, MO on August 26, 2008 to discuss implementing Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Burton Eller, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for NCBA, attended the meeting and helped negotiate a standardized affidavit that can be used throughout the cattle marketing chain to verify animals’ origin. “Coming to terms on this affidavit is a significant accomplishment,” Eller said. “Having a standard document that everyone in the supply chain can use to demonstrate origin will make the entire labeling process easier and less burdensome.”
The affidavit, still in draft form, provides a means of asserting livestock’s origins through first-hand knowledge, normal business records, or other producer affidavits. Eller anticipates that the affidavit will be finalized among all industry representatives within the next few days. “Once it’s in final form, we’ll notify the Department of Agriculture of the industry’s consensus,” Eller explains. “Producers can be confident that there will be a standard process in place to move animals through the supply chain well before the rule goes into effect at the end of September.”
When the interim final COOL rule was issued, it specified that animals in the country prior to July 16, 2008 would be considered of U.S. origin. Questions arose about how to verify origin for cattle that change hands between that date and the September 30 implementation deadline. Industry representatives agreed that owners should be considered to have first-hand knowledge of those cattle and animals should be allowed to move from these premises on that same standard affidavit.
The interim final COOL rule was published in the Federal Register on August 1, 2008. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the rule to allow for industry comment prior to issuing a final rule, while simultaneously meeting the September 30, 2008 COOL implementation deadline. The interim final rule contains definitions, requirements for consumer notification and product marking, and the responsibilities of both retailers and suppliers for covered commodities.
The full rule is available online at federalregister.gov/
USDA Announces Rule Banning Downer Cattle:
On Wednesday, August 27, 2008, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a proposed rule to amend the Federal meat inspection regulations regarding the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle, also known as downer cattle.
NCBA is currently analyzing and evaluating the proposed rule, which stipulates that all cattle that are non-ambulatory or disabled at any time prior to slaughter, including those that become non-ambulatory after passing ante-mortem inspection, will be condemned and properly disposed of.
Under the current rule, cattle that passed the ante-mortem inspection and then became non-ambulatory due to injury could be inspected on a case-by-case basis by FSIS personnel, and could be deemed eligible for slaughter should they pass that second inspection. That rule provided a way for otherwise healthy cattle that had suffered acute injuries-injuries which do not impact the safety or quality of the meat from that animal-to continue through the supply chain, thereby ensuring producers would not lose money on healthy, well-cared-for animals.
All cattle producers have a responsibility to ensure the cattle they send for processing are healthy and properly treated. NCBA strongly supports exclusion of any disabled cattle from the commercial food supply that may be diseased or that could represent a threat to the safety or quality of the food supply.
APHIS Declares Texas Free of Brucellosis:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting a final rule changing Texas’ brucellosis classification from Class A to Class Free, relieving restrictions on interstate movement of cattle from Texas.
To attain and maintain Class Free status, a State or area must:
(1) remain free from field strain Brucella abortus infection for 12 consecutive months or longer;
(2) trace back at least 90 percent of all brucellosis reactors found in the course of MCI testing to the farm of origin;
(3) successfully close at least 95 percent of the MCI reactor cases traced to the farm of origin during the consecutive 12-month period immediately prior to the most recent anniversary of the date the State or area was classified Class Free; and
(4) have a specified surveillance system, as described above, including an approved individual herd plan in effect within 15 days of locating the source herd or recipient herd.
The last brucellosis-infected cattle herd in Texas was detected in August 2005.
New BSE Site Launched with Help of Nine International Experts:
The Checkoff-funded Web site www.BSEInfo.org recently was overhauled to include new and updated content as well as provide a more professional and easy-to-search Web structure. Although the United States hasn’t had a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) since 2006, this disease remains important to the beef industry and the scientific community and frequently receives media attention.
The revised Web site now contains updated BSE basics; information about BSE in the news; beef industry statements; media contact information; answers to frequently asked questions and beef industry facts. BSEInfo.org also serves as a portal to other government, international and industry Web sites and contains interactive maps highlighting the geographic distribution of BSE cases.
Significantly, the Scientific Resource section was updated with the help of nine leading transmissible spongiform encephalopathy experts who served as scientific reviewers for sections about prions, BSE, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, scrapie and chronic wasting disease.
On August 27 and 28, 2008, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) held a public meeting to review and discuss international equivalence of foreign food regulatory systems. The meeting included discussions of various approaches to assessing foreign inspection systems.
USDA Holds Public Meetings on Food Safety for Imported Products:
Participants, including Dr. Elizabeth Parker, Chief Veterinarian for NCBA, compared four perspectives on foreign inspection assessments, including the FSIS strategy and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approach. Additionally, an industry perspective, a consumer approach, and finally, the approaches by several foreign governments were discussed.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will hold a workshop September 18 and 19, 2008 to discuss the potential market and trade impacts of cloning, the influence of animal diseases and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions on trade flows, global meat supply and demand issues, feed grain suppliers in the global meat complex, and country-of-origin labeling (COOL). The workshop is free and open to all, but space is limited. For more information, please visit http://www.ers.usda.gov/ConferenceCenter/GlobalMeat/index.htm.
USDA Holds Workshop on “Emerging Issues in Global Meat Trade”: