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Subject: susag.news: food safety news
Food Safety News
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
February 22, 1995
Volume 3, Number 2
- USDA Proposes Meat and Poultry Test
- Education Needed Before Irradiation Will Be Accepted
- German Party Calls for Ban on British Beef Imports
- Meat Shortages Will Force U.S. Consumers to Change Diets
- Group Steps Up Campaign Against Land O'Lakes
- Group Says FDA Ignores Use of Illegal Chemicals on 42 Foods
- Quaker to Compete for Bagged Cereals Market
USDA Proposes Meat and Poultry Test
Late last month, the USDA released a proposal for testing meat and
poultry for harmful bacteria in an effort to replace the current
system, which relies on sight, touch and smell to ensure meat safety.
Called the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), the
proposed system requires the nation's meat packing plants to test
daily for bacteria and achieve a certain level of pathogen control.
Every plant will also be required to have a written plan for meeting
sanitation requirements, use antimicrobial treatment for chilling and
a standard cooling procedure for beef similar to that required for
poultry. "When it comes to safety of food, American consumers do
not expect perfection, but they do expect and deserve a food supply
that is as safe as the modern tools of science and technology can
make it," said Michael Taylor, head of the USDA's Food Safety and
Inspection Service (FSIS).
Dr. Russell Cross, former FSIS administrator, called on industry to
accept the proposal. "There can be and there will be no compromise
on food safety or public health protection," he said. Industry,
however, is not prepared to entirely embrace the proposal. James
Hodges of the American Meat Institute said they do not favor
pathogen reduction targets. "It takes enormous numbers of samples
to give you any confidence that the pathogen is there or not there,"
he said. According to Jeffrey Nedelman of the Grocery Manufacturers
of America, "HACCP is one example of regulatory overkill that we will
be discussing on the hill." Carol Tucker Foreman, who works on
consumer issues, responded, "It isn't Star Trek, but it moves us
beyond the horse and buggy."
Source: Lisa Seachrist, "USDA Proposes New Meat Safety Rules," UPI,
January 31, 1995; Rod Smith, "FSIS This Week Will Publish Food
Safety 'Mega-Rule,'" FEEDSTUFFS, January 30, 1995; Eddie Evans, "US
Ag Dept. Fights for Meat Inspection Rules," REUTERS, January 19,
1995; Bruce Ingersoll, "Food Fight Seen as U.S. Offers Safety
Program," WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 1, 1995.
Education Needed Before Irradiation Will Be Accepted
At the recent International Poultry Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia,
James Corrigan, president of Carrot Top supermarkets in Chicago,
which sells irradiated poultry, said if you are considering selling
irradiated foods, it is essential to educate your customers. "Anyone
who tells you that consumers are inherently opposed to food
irradiation -- that wasn't our experience. They weren't in favor of it
but they wanted to know more." Dr. Christine Bruhn of the
University of California-Davis, echoed Corrigan's statements saying,
"After hearing that scientific and health groups have endorsed the
safety of irradiated foods, half preferred irradiated over non-
irradiated meat. Additionally, 60% said they would pay more for
irradiated ground beef."
Literature from the Vermont-based Food & Water suggests that
irradiation is not the answer to cleaning up the nation's meat supply.
"Consumers want real solutions to the meat contamination problem,
not dangerous gimmicks like irradiation that leave carcinogenic
residues, deplete nutritional quality and threaten the environment,"
said the group's Executive Director Michael Colby.
Source: "U.S. Poultry Industry Beginning to Consider Product
Irradiation," FEEDSTUFFS, February 13, 1995; Russell Shaw, "Educate,
Then Irradiate, Panel Told," SUPERMARKET NEWS, January 30, 1995;
Robert H. Brown, "Education Important in Accepting Irradiation,"
FEEDSTUFFS, January 23, 1995; "E Coli Victims' Advocate & Food
Safety Group Urge Meat Industry to Clean Up Its Act," FOOD &
WATER PRESS RELEASE, September 29, 1994.
German Party Calls for Ban on British Beef imports
The German Social Democratic Party (SPD) called on the government
to ban imports of British beef out of fear over bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as mad cow disease. The
move came after Health Minister Horst Seehofer signed an
emergency decree to bring Germany into line with other European
Union (EU) states which agreed to accept imports of British beef in
December. Said one SPD spokesperson, "The route of the beef from
the farm yard to the butcher's shop has to be clearly identifiable."
The European Commission also warned Germany that it would be in
violation of EU rules if it imposed its own time limits on the transport
of live animals. The German proposal calls for a transportation time
limit of eight hours. The Commission said it hopes that the EU
member nation's agriculture ministers could reach agreement on the
Commission's proposals at a meeting today. Among the
Commission's proposals are time limits for resting, feeding and
watering animals, limits on numbers, and a route plan. Britain,
Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands all support Germany. Italy,
Spain, Greece and Portugal want no limits.
Source: Michael Lindemann, "SPD Calls for Boycott of British Beef,"
FINANCIAL TIMES February 8, 1995; Caroline Southey, "Bonn
Warned on Timing Plans for Animal Transport," FINANCIAL TIMES,
February 2, 1995.
Meat Shortages Will Force U.S. Consumers to Change Diets
Speaking last week at the annual meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, a panel of experts said
environmental degradation coupled with a growing population will
radically change the diet of the average American by the year 2050.
With lands already pushed to the limit and crop yields unable to
keep up, panelists said they believe there will be less meat, but more
pasta, beans and potatoes on American tables in the future. "Modern
agriculture is using land to convert petroleum to food," said Albert
Allen Bartlett of the University of Chicago, who added that domestic
oil wells will be depleted in 20 years. David Pimental of Cornell
University said the U.S. will lose an additional 120 million acres of
farmland to urban sprawl and erosion in the next 60 years while the
population doubles. If those trends play themselves out, the U.S. will
no longer be in a position to export food by the year 2025.
Source: "Less Meat, More Potatoes: Experts Say Shortages Will Force
U.S. to Change Diet," MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE, February 18,
Group Steps Up Campaign Against Land O'Lakes
Vermont-based Food & Water is stepping up its recombinant bovine
growth hormone (rBGH) campaign against the Land O'Lakes company.
The group will hold a press conference and rally at the company's
annual meeting in Minneapolis this week. In preparation for the
event, Food & Water has run ads in farm journals and local
newspapers and placed announcements on radio stations. Food &
Water Executive Director Michael Colby says his group was hoping
Land O'Lakes would "listen to consumers and small dairy farms and
reject this technology." Land O'Lakes denies rBGH is an issue with its
customers. "Consumers are much more savvy today than in the past.
They feel inundated with claims that everything they eat is bad for
them," said company spokesperson Terry Nagle.
FARM JOURNAL says that rBGH has not caused the sky to fall, as
some predicted. "In a nutshell," writes Jim Dickrell, "life goes on
pretty much as it always has in most U.S. dairy barns one year after
the Food and Drug Administration approved use of BST." Joe Julka,
who farms near Malone, Wisconsin, said his experience has been
pretty much as he expected. On the other hand, Steve Vandermeer, a
Texas dairy farmer, said he stopped using rBGH when his cows
reacted poorly during hot weather last summer. After putting about
60% of his cows back on the drug when it got cooler, Vandermeer
said, "Nothing happened." Monsanto continues to maintain that sales
of its product Posilac are brisk.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that the so-called Contract with America
will hurt milk sales. The Republican promise to the American public
would cede control of federal food and nutrition programs to the
states. Ed Coughlin of the National
Milk Producers Federation believes this could cut into milk sales,
because states, for example, could no longer require that schools offer
milk in the school lunch programs or reduce the number of people
eligible for assistance. NMPF said the contract could reduce school
milk use by 75%, thereby dropping the price of milk 14 to 22 cents per
Source: Jane Fyksen, "Vermont Consumer Group Targets Land
O'Lakes' BGH Stance," AGRI VIEW, February 10, 1995; Jim Dickrell,
"Life Goes On," FARM JOURNAL, February 1995; Charles House,
"'Contract' Expected to Hurt Milk Sales," FEEDSTUFFS, February 13,
Group Says FDA Ignores Use of Illegal Chemicals on 42 Foods
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) said last week that the
FDA ignored the illegal use of chemicals on an estimated 42 fruits and
vegetables. Reviewing FDA files, the group said violations of
pesticide residue standards were often detected but not reported.
Specifically, a sampling of 15,000 records from the agency's pesticide
monitoring program found residue violations during 1992 and 1993
on 5.6% of the samples but only 3.1% of those violations were
reported. "The results of this study show that pesticides are
pervasive throughout the fruit and vegetable supply," concluded the
The FDA responded that the data was misinterpreted. John Jones of
the FDA's pesticide monitoring program said, "The best available
science is that risks associated with these low level pesticide
residues, legal or illegal, are extremely low." The General Accounting
Office concluded last year that the program lacked the money to
sample the nation's food supply in a way that yielded reliable data.
A judge recently approved a settlement between the Environmental
Protraction Agency (EPA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC) over allowable levels of pesticides on food. Under the
settlement, EPA has five years to phase out certain uses of
carcinogenic pesticides in processed foods. Al Meyerhoff of the NRDC
characterized the decision as the "second punch." The first punch
came when the lawsuit by NRDC was upheld in 1992 by a San
Francisco appellate court.
Source: "Group Says the FDA Ignored Illegal Pesticide Use on
Produce," NEW YORK TIMES, February 17, 1995; "Judge OKs Pesticide
Settlement," AGRI NEWS, February 16, 1995.
Quaker to Compete for Bagged Cereals Market
The Quaker Oats company announced that it will place its name and
logo on bagged cereal sold under the brand name Popeye. The move
is being closely watched by Malt-O-Meal, located in Northfield,
Minnesota, which currently dominates the bagged cereal market.
General Mills is also watching the development, but is reportedly
reluctant to join the fray, choosing to rely instead on its high priced
nationally recognized private label brands, which also generate a
Source: Tony Kennedy, "Quaker to Put its Name on Bagged Cereal ...,"
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE, January 24, 1995.
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology has recently
published a report entitled PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF
AGRICHEMICALS by Dr. Eileen van Ravenswaay of Michigan State
University. The report is available for $10.00 from CAST, 4420 West
Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014, Tel: (515) 292-2125.
Foodways: Foods and Wellness Across Cultures, March 27, 1995, St.
Paul, MN. FFI, contact: Boni Petrich, University of Minnesota, 202
Nolte Center, 315 Pillsbury Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55455, Tel: (612)
625-1832, Fax: (612) 626-1632, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protecting Children and Families From Pesticides, March 17-20, 1995,
Alexandria, VA. FFI, contact: National Coalition Against the Misuse
of Pesticides, 701 E Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003, Tel: (202)
543-5450, Fax: (202) 543-4791.
Food Safety News is produced by the Institute for Agriculture and
Trade Policy and edited by Michelle Thom. Electronic mail versions
are available free of charge for subscribers. For information about
fax subscriptions contact: IATP, 1313 Fifth Street SE, Suite 303,
Minneapolis, MN 55414. For information on subscribing to this and
other IATP news bulletins, send e-mail to: email@example.com.
IATP provides contract research services to a wide range of
corporate and not-for-profit organizations. For more information,
contact Dale Wiehoff at 612-379-5980, ext. 233, or send email to: