Editorial

2021 FDA Antimicrobial Use Report

In late December 2022, the FDA published a summary report on veterinary antibiotic use entitled Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed in 2021 for Use in Food-Producing Animals.  The report should be considered in light of Guidance for Industry Documents #2 & #3 and #152 which classified antibiotic classes as either medically important for human therapy or not medically important including ionophore antibacterials.  It is also noted that in 2017 veterinary feed directives (VFDs) or prescriptions were required for food additive or water administered antibiotics respectively.  The executive summary of the report demonstrated a decrease of 33 percent in antibiotic use from 2012 through 2021 but a decrease of less than one percent from 2020 through 2021 suggesting a plateau.  With specific reference to 2021, for all food species tetracyclines accounted for 35 percent, penicillins for 6 percent, macrolides for 5 percent, sulfas and aminoglycosides 3 percent each, lincosamides for 2%, cephalosporins for 0.2 percent.  Fluoroquinolones use accounted for less than 0.2 percent consistent with the two-decade ban on this class of antibiotics.  

 

In evaluating medically important antibiotic drugs approved for use in food-producing animals actively marketed in 2021, a total of 5,115,111 kg was used in cattle, swine, chicken and turkey production combined.  The “other” category for nonfood-producing animals and minor food-producing species including aquaculture were subtracted from the total of 5,989,721 kg.  Chicken (presumed to be broilers) consumed 2.6 percent of the total non-medically important drugs amounting to 158,342 kg.  Turkeys consumed 11.0 percent of the antibiotics used in food-producing animal.  The use of antibiotics in egg production is negligible and for the purposes of the FDA report was in all probability included in the “chicken” category.

 

To determine relative use of antibiotics in chickens and turkeys and the difference between broilers and turkeys during 2016 and 2021, the respective use rates expressed as mg per kg RTC were calculated for the two segments of the poultry meat industry. For ‘chickens’, (presumably broilers) each kg of RTC product used the equivalent of 0.028g (28mg) of antibiotic in 2016. Use per kg of RTC declined by 72.1 percent to 0.0078g (7.8mg) in 2021.  This is consistent with the general perception that antibiotic use in the broiler industry has declined sharply over the past five years due to the introduction of ‘no antibiotic ever’ production and a general disinclination to administer antibiotics.  For turkeys, the consumption of antibiotic expressed per unit of mass was 0.278 g (278mg) per kg in 2016 with a 6.1 percent reduction to 0.261g (261mg) per kg RTC in 2021. Between 2018 and 2021 the ratio of antibiotic use between turkey and chicken production widened from 9.9 to 33.4 suggesting less progress in eliminating antibiotics for the turkey segment of the U.S. poultry industry.

 

The broiler industry has managed to eliminate antibiotics by firstly recognizing that a number of growth stimulating products were basically ineffective.  The industry has made strides in controlling immunosuppressive infections including Marek’s disease and infectious bursal disease contributing to enhanced immune response to vaccines and improved livability and growth rate.  More effective vaccination against respiratory infections including infectious bronchitis and laryngotracheitis has reduced the severity of viral respiratory infections and consequential secondary bacterial infections.  This is coupled with a greater awareness of the need for appropriate ventilation and control of litter moisture reducing both respiratory stress and intestinal infections resulting in reduced use of antibiotics to control E. coli and clostridial enterotoxemia.  Regrettably less progress has been made in application of alternative modalities to antibiotics in the turkey industry for both prevention and therapy.

 

 

                                             Year 2016

Year 2021

% Difference

Chicken RTC

(million m. tons)                         18.498

 

   20.409

 

+10.4

Antibiotic* Use

            (kg)3                                508,800

 

  158,342

 

-68.9

Chicken Use per kg RTC             28 mg

    7.8 mg

       -72.1

Turkey RTC

(million m. tons)                            2.718

 

      2.526

 

-7.1

Antibiotic* Use

           (kg)3                                 756,620

 

  659,431

 

-12.8

Turkey Use per kg RTC               278 mg

 

Ratio Turkey to Chicken use            9.9

      261 mg

 

       33.4

        -1.1

 

       +237

 

                                *non-medically significant, active product  (excludes ionophore anticoccidials)

 

Poultry Industry News

Poultry Meat Projection

Updated USDA-ERS Poultry Meat Projection for January 2023.

 

On January 19th 2023 the USDA-Economic Research Service released updated production and consumption data with respect to broilers and turkeys, covering 2021 (actual), an update for 2022 and a projection for 2023.

 

Compared to 2021, broiler RTC production in 2022 was increased 2.9 percent in the January 2023 report to 46,205 million lbs. RTC (21.002 million metric tons.). Per capita consumption in 2022 will be 0.3 percent higher compared to 2021 at 99.3 lbs. (45.1 kg.). Exports will represent 15.8 percent of RTC production in 2022 attaining 7,282 million lbs. (3.310 million metric tons) comprising RTC leg quarters, other products and feet.

 

The projection for 2023 is for 46,800 million lbs. (21.273 million metric tons) with a per capita consumption of 100.8 lbs. (45.8 kg.) and exports of 7,315 million lbs. (3.325 million metric tons).

 

Turkey production for 2022 compared to 2021 will be 6.0 percent lower at 5,223 million lbs. (2.374 million metric tons) RTC. The January 2023 projection for per capita consumption in 2022 was 3.9 percent lower than in 2021 at 14.7 lbs. (6.7 kg.), despite extensive promotions and introduction of further-processed items. Export volume for 2022 was reduced 21.2 percent to 405 million lbs. (0.184 million metric tons) from 2021. Values for production and consumption of RTC turkey in 2022 are considered to be realistic, given the prevailing economy, variable weekly poult placements, production levels, losses from HPAI and inventories.

 

The January 2023 USDA forecast for the turkey industry in 2023 comprised annual production of 5,560 million lbs. (2.527 million metric tons) with consumption of 15.8 lbs. (7.2 kg.) per capita.

 

Production values for the broiler and turkey segments of the U.S. poultry meat industry are tabulated below:-

Parameter

2021

(actual)

2022

(update)

Difference % 2021

to 2022

2023

(projection)

Broilers

       

Production (million lbs.)

44,899

46,205

+2.9

46,800

Consumption (lbs. per capita)

96.6

99.3

+0.3

100.8

Exports (million lbs.)

7,355

7,282

-1.0

7,315

Proportion of production (%)

16.4

15.8

-3.6

15.6

         

Turkeys

       

Production (million lbs.)

5,558

5,223

-6.0

5,560

Consumption (lbs. per capita)

15.3

14.7

-3.9

15.8

Exports (million lbs.)

548

 405

-26.0

400

Proportion of production (%)

 9.9

7.8

-21.2

7.2

Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook released January 19th 2023

 

Export projections do not allow for a breakdown in trade relations with existing major partners including Mexico and China nor the impact of catastrophic diseases including HPAI and vvND in either the U.S. or importing nations

 

The projection takes into account declining exports to China, ranked second by volume in 2021 with imports of 460,159 metric tons valued at $864 million with a unit price of $1,875 per ton. Average unit price for U.S. broiler exports including parts and feet but excluding imports by China, the first-ranked importer attained $1,139 per metric ton during 2021. For the first ten months of 2022, China imported 535,666 tons of broiler products valued at $945 million including feet at an average unit price of $1,764 per ton. Feet represented 78.6 percent of volume over the 10-month period (421,034 metric tons) at a unit price of $1,943 per ton.

 

Subscribers are referred to the monthly update of production and cold storage inventories of broilers and turkeys and exports posted in each edition of CHICK-NEWS with the previous monthly data under the STATISTICS tab.


 

USDA Agricultural Prices Report

THE USDA Agricultural Prices Report released December 30th 2022 posted November prices for agricultural commodities and expenditures.

 

 The USDA ERS detailed prices as follows:-

“The November Prices Received Index (2011 as a base) for Agricultural Production was 133.4, an increase of 4.5 percent from October 2022 and 23 percent from November 2021. At 127.1, the Crop Production Index was up 4.3 percent from last month and 19 percent from the previous year. The Livestock Production Index, at 143.4, increased 3.2 percent from October and 30 percent from November last year. Producers received higher prices during November for lettuce, soybeans, market eggs and cattle but lower prices for hogs, hay, milk, and cotton. In addition to prices, the volume change of commodities marketed also influences the indexes. In November, there was increased monthly movement for corn, milk, cattle, and cotton and decreased marketing of soybeans, grapes, lettuce, and wheat.”

 

“The November Prices Paid Index for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW), at 137.1, was unchanged from October 2022 but up 11 percent from November 2021. Higher prices for feeder cattle, feeder pigs, concentrates, and nitrogen offset lower prices for other services, hay and forages, complete feeds, and other machinery”.

 

Corn farmers received $6.49 per bushel in November 2022 compared to $5.26 per bushel in November 2021, up 23.4 percent.

 

Soybean farmers received $14.00 per bushel in November 2022 compared to $12.10 per bushel in November 2021, up 15.7 percent.

 

Broiler integrators were assigned a live bird transfer price of 71.4 cents per live lb. in November 2022 compared to 59.2 cents per live lb. in November 2021, up 20.6 percent. Due to integration there are effectively no independent farmers selling live broilers other than a fractional proportion of total production destined for urban wet markets.

 

Turkey integrators were assigned a live bird transfer price of $1.26 per live lb. in November 2022 compared to $0.84 per live lb. in November 2021, up 20.6 percent. Due to integration there are effectively no independent farmers selling live turkeys other than a fractional proportion of total production destined for specialty “heritage” markets.


 

Deleterious Effect of Beta-Conglycinin for Broiler Chicks

A study presented at the 2023 International Poultry Scientific Forum demonstrated the deleterious effect of beta-conglycinin, an allergenic protein inherent to soybeans and present in soybean meal. Experimental diets comprised a non-supplemented control, and two increments of beta-conglycinin at 25,000 ppm and 50,000 ppm.  Chicks were housed in battery cages from day old to 14 days for the experimental period followed by a pelleted diet fed from 14 to 21 days.  Addition of the beta-conglycinin to feed significantly reduced intake and growth rate in mash feeds.  There were no treatment effects on differential blood cell counts, serum vitamin E levels or mucosal superoxide dismutase activity.

 

Since the compound is heat labile, the trial included both mash and pelleted feed.  Experimental diets containing beta-conglycinin were heat treated to 38C for 10 seconds and passed through a 3mm die.  Although pelleting using these parameters was effective in degrading beta-conglycinin, under commercial conditions, optimal pelleting conditions are infrequently achieved. 

The trial was sponsored by and included participation by scientists affiliated with Hamlet Protein. The product comprises soybean meal treated by heat and enzymes to produce an ingredient free of anti-nutritional components. When Hamlet Protein is substituted for conventional soybean meal growth rate and feed conversion efficiency are enhanced, providing a beneficial return on the incremental cost of including the product in diets.  Controlled experiments and field trials have demonstrated the benefits of early feeding of Hamlet Protein to chicks and poults since a range of anti-nutritional factors impair optimal performance in avian neonates.


 

Foster Farms Refutes Allegation of Flock Starvation

Despite the need for the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to intervene to ensure shipments of corn to Foster Farms, the company has issued an assurance that no flocks were deprived of feed.

 

A company spokesman stated, “Foster Farms grain inventories are currently at levels that enable us to meet the nutritional requirements of all flocks in our care and bird health is not at risk.”  The statement added, “All Foster Farms facilities are operating and our hope is that more reliable service standards can be maintained and further disruptions minimized.”

Union Pacific stated that it has voluntarily provided the Surface Transportation Board and Foster Farms with service updates since January 3rd.  Union Pacific has blamed delays in delivery to about twenty western states on extreme cold and blizzard conditions.  The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has intervened twice, first on June 17th and then December 30th enjoining Union Pacific to “make all efforts to meet scheduled grain deliveries to Foster Farms, based in Modesto CA.”

 

Notwithstanding the restoration of services, Foster Farms should evaluate storage capacity for grains in the event of shortages that may occur in the future as a result of natural catastrophe and events beyond the control of their rail provider.


 

Wholesomeness of Plant-Based Alternatives to Meat Questioned

Dr. John Luchansky, Lead Scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, PA stated, “The confidence in the inherent safety of plant-based products is misplaced.”  He added, “In reality, plant-based meats are ultra-processed and contain numerous food-grade chemicals as ingredients.”  There is little information available on the time and temperature combinations required to prevent the outgrowth of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria and how to reduce these pathogens during cooking, according to Dr. Luchansky. 

 

Consumers have now been conditioned to thoroughly cook meat-burgers but the same cannot be said for plant-based material that is either undercooked or, in some cases, consumed raw.  A microbiologist at the USDA-ARS Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit stated, “In reality plants are potentially contaminated with high levels of foodborne pathogens and as such, plant-based burgers should be considered and handled just like raw ground beef.

Despite the fact that there are no documented recalls or illnesses as a result of consuming plant-based meat alternatives, risks of infection are evident. The USDA Research Center advises consumers to handle plant-based products as they would raw meat, requiring cooking to 160F and avoiding cross contamination.


 

Tyson Donates Chicken to Victims of Blizzard

Tyson Foods has donated 50 tons of chicken products to FeedMore of Western New York.  According to the manager of the food pantry, "this will definitely be a wonderful addition to any family's meal.  Hopefully, it means they don’t have to worry that day how they're going to feed their family".  Food insecurity is now 25 percent higher in the four contiguous counties of Western New York State and involves one out of eight residents.  FeedMore WNY has recorded an 11 percent increase in demand for services through the four-county area since the blizzard


 

JBS USA Opens Apartment Complex for Workers

In October 2021, JBS announced a project in Ottumwa, IA to house workers.  The company pledged $20 million to create affordable housing for employees.  The residential project was formally opened during the first week of January and will comprise 108 units.

 

Providing accommodation for workers will become an important component of new or expanded complexes and plants, especially with regard to obtaining approval for projects that will require additional workers.  JBS USA had to be complimented on their vision and contribution to the community in which they operate.


 

USDA Forecasts Global Production and Trade in Chicken Meat

The January 2023 USDA-FAS Global Market Analysis projected a 1.7 percent higher World production of broiler meat attaining 102.94 million metric tons (m.mtons)

 

The top-10 producers are ranked with their respective proportion of World production*:-

Nation

m.mtons

% total

U.S.

21.28

20.6

 

 

 

Brazil

14.75

14.3

 

 

 

China

14.30

13.9

 

 

 

E.U.

10.97

10.7

 

 

 

Mexico

4.06

4.0

 

 

 

Thailand

3.43

3.3

 

 

 

U.K.

1.83

1.8

 

 

 

Japan

1.78

1.7

 

 

 

RSA

1.61

1.6

 

 

 

Canada

1.43

1.4

 

 

 

Others

24.00

23.0

 

 

Total non-U.S. broiler production will increase by 2.0 percent to 81.66 million metric tons or 79.3 percent of the world total of 102.94 million metric tons.

 

In 2023, total imports will amount to 11.398 million metric tons. The major importers and their quantities are ranked according to the USDA projection:-

 

Nation

m.mtons

Japan

1.10

 

 

Mexico

0.92

 

 

U.K.

0.85

 

 

E.U.

0.77

 

 

China

0.62

 

 

Iraq

0.50

 

 

Philippines

0.48

 

 

Angola

0.35

 

 

RSA

0.34

 

 

S. Korea

0.23

 

The projected export volume of broiler RTC in 2023 is 13.995 million metric tons. The major exporters are ranked together with the proportion of total world exports as follows:-

 

Nation

m.mtons

% total

Brazil

4.56

35.5

 

 

 

U.S.

3.33

24.2

 

 

 

E.U.

1.80

12.8

 

 

 

Thailand

1.05

7.4

 

 

 

China

0.55

3.9

 

 

 

Canada

0.12

0.9

 

*The values projected by USDA exclude chicken feet.


 

CBP Continue to Intercept Smuggled Meat on Southern Border

According to a Department of Homeland Security release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted 221 attempts to introduce prohibited meat products during the first week of 2023 at the Laredo, TX point of entry.  High traffic is experienced after the holiday season as vacationers and foreign workers return to the U.S.  Over a four day period, pork products were the most commonly encountered contraband predominantly in the form of pork bologna.

 

As with any form of smuggling, the products interdicted represented only a proportion of the total quantity introduced across the Southern border.  Smuggled meat and poultry has the potential to introduce exotic diseases but more of concern to livestock than poultry.  A more serious problem is the commercial shipment of illegal meat and poultry products in containers with fraudulent manifests.  This is especially a risk with importation of illegal specialty oriental items packed in containers with products that are eligible for importation preventing detection at point of entry. The 1999 extensive outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England with extension to France resulted from illegal importation of meat products for an ethnic restaurant in Newcastle-on-Tyne.

 


 

Brand Officer Leaves Beyond Meat

Beth Moskowitz who has served as the chief brand officer for Beyond Meat (BYND) since 2019 has announced her departure from the Company.  Recent executive resignations include Deanna Jurgens, Global Chief Growth officer and President of North America; Phillip Hardin, Chief Financial Officer, Doug Ramsey, briefly Chief Operating Officer and Bernie Adcock, a Tyson Foods veteran with experience in production and marketing.

 

Paying tribute to Ms. Moskowitz, CEO Ethan Brown noted that Beth was instrumental in building the Beyond brand and establishing celebrity partnerships.  She was central in attempts to promote Beyond products by emphasizing taste, health and sustainability.

 

Ms. Moskowitz noted that she looked forward to returning to her roots as an investor, advisor and creative partner and to participate in family events.

 

Beyond Meat has traded over the past 12 months from $68.06 down to $11.03 with a 50-day moving average of $13.85. The trailing twelve-month operating margin is -77 percent and profit margin -88 percent. Shares short of float on December 30th 2022 attained 43 percent.


 

USDA-AMS Purchases

On January13th, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service announced purchase of 774 tons of bulk-packed large chilled chicken over a price range of $1.22 to $1.55 per lb. The second product comprised 504 tons of bulk-packed chilled chicken legs at $0.44 per lb. Product is to be delivered during the second half of February. Chicken purchased by USDA-AMS is destined for child nutrition and related food assistance programs.

The two purchases amounted to $2.4 million.

 

 


 

Wayne-Sanderson Farms Settles with Contractors

A class action lawsuit filed by contract growers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, designated Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, Perdue Farms and Koch Foods as co-defendants.  The plaintiff's alleged that the integrators colluded using shared information through an industry benchmarking service to depress grower remuneration.

 

To date, Tyson Foods has settled for $21 million, Perdue Farms for $15 million and Koch Foods for $16 million.  The latest settlement by Wayne-Sanderson Farms for an undisclosed figure places greater pressure on Pilgrim's Pride to either settle or proceed to trial.

 

The risks of litigation associated with subscription to any industry benchmarking system are self-evident with integrators previously agreeing to substantial settlements with customer categories alleging collusion over volumes of production and hence prices.


 

USDA-AMS Purchases

On December 29th 2022, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service announced purchase of 536 tons of shelf stable boned chicken in cans for child nutrition and related food assistance programs.  Product was purchased at an average of  $2.57 per lb. with deliveries to be made from February 1st through March 31st 2023.

 

On January 4th, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service announced purchase of 429 tons of chicken fajita strips for the National School Lunch Program.  Product was purchased at $2.93 per lb. with deliveries to be made from February 16th 2023 through April 15th 2023.

 

The two purchases amounted to $5.6 million.


 

Fire at Wayne-Sanderson Hatchery


On January 3rd a fire damaged a hatchery operated by Wayne-Sanderson Farms in Surry County, North Carolina.  The damage was confined mainly to the egg storage area with a loss of stock and a temporary interruption in activity.  No one was injured in the event.


This incident points to the need for adequate construction since a firewall prevented extension of the blaze to the setting, hatching and chick-processing areas.  Fire detection and fire suppression installations should be incorporated in all new facilities and should be considered for retrofits given the critical importance of hatcheries in an integrated complex.


 

USDA Continues Funding Small-Scale Meat and Poultry Processing

During 2022 USDA assigned $223 million in grants and loans to small-scale meat and poultry processors.  This amount was subsequently supplemented with an additional $73 million as 21 grants in 19 states forming the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program.  On January 5th 2023 the USDA announced an additional $9.6 million to “strengthen the nations meat supply”.  In announcing the new tranche, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated, “We are putting the needs of farmers, ranchers and consumers at the forefront in the Administration’s work to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition”. 

 

The current program of funding will be spread among 25 independent businesses with two companies each receiving $5.7 million under the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program.  Bottomland Prime LLC will receive $5 million to acquire and expand a meat processing and retail facility in Amarillo TX.  Other grants in the $50,000 range will be used to acquire equipment and provide working capital for expansion.

The current Administration and the Secretary of Agriculture appear committed to restructuring meat production, ignoring the realities of scale of operation and the resources required to maintain a constant food supply for the Nation and export. The ‘Big-4” red meat producers and the “Top-10” broiler integrators operate large and efficient packing plants that can apply technology, capital intensive installations and logistics to deliver meat to consumers at an affordable price unmatched by small competitors supplying only local markets.


 

Shawarma Chicken Responsible for Salmonellosis

Health officials in Australia recorded two recent limited outbreaks of salmonellosis in patrons of shawarma and kabob stores.  The first case involved 12 diagnoses of Salmonella Agona.  Five patients required treatment and one was hospitalized.  The second case involved Salmonella Virchow responsible for two diagnosed cases. Generally it is accepted that the actual number of cases of salmonellosis from a given source exceeds the diagnosed cases by a factor of ten.

 

Investigations disclosed failures in hygiene and irregular and incomplete decontamination of equipment.  Samples yielded Salmonella from the shaving blades of the shawarma cooker, pans and samples of raw chicken.  Recommendations were provided to dismantle and decontaminate equipment on a daily basis and to pre-cook meat including lamb and poultry in a double boiler at 176 F in comparison to the inadequate 140 F and in some cases 130 F at peak serving times.

 

The bottom line: “make the shawarma warmer!”


 

Union Pacific Railroad Ordered to Satisfy Foster Farms Corn Requirements

In June 2022, Foster Farms obtained an emergency order from the Federal Service Transportation Board to maintain deliveries of corn to Company feed mills by Union Pacific Railroad.

 

Following deterioration in frequency of deliveries, Foster Farms filed a petition for emergency service granted by the Service Transportation Board on December 30th.  The Board directed Union Pacific Railroad to satisfy commitments to Foster Farms and to provide status updates.

 

The need for an integrator to resort to emergency applications to a federal regulatory agency twice within six months suggests the vulnerability of Foster Farms with respect to corn. They may wish to review their long-term needs and invest capital in storage capacity to maintain operations in the event of an interruption in supply. This could occur during a prolonged strike, weather event or other calamity beyond the immediate control of a carrier.


 

Joint Development Agreement Between Green Leaf Foods and The Better Meat Company

Green Leaf Foods, a subsidiary of Maple Leaf Foods, has entered into a joint development agreement with The Better Meat Company to apply Rhiza microprotein culture to the manufacture of ingredients.  The Better Meat Company has developed technology to produce a natural meat-textured protein product through fermentation.  The microprotein-derived additive enhances texture for plant-based meat substitutes.

 

Doni Curkendall, Executive Vice-President of Operations for The Better Meat Company, stated, “Rhiza microprotein is a versatile ingredient for use both as a meat enhancer and meat replacer.”  He added, “Green Leaf Foods expertise in all things protein makes them a stellar partner to showcase this powerful ingredient that will help build an even more sustainable protein industry.”


 

McDonald’s Corp. Issues Antibiotic Policy to Source Beef

McDonald's Corp. has issued a policy on reducing antibiotic residues in their beef supply chain.  The Company will follow established science-based guidelines established by the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health.

 

The primary objective of the policy is to exclude administration of antibiotics critical to human health as stated, “Our policy does not permit the routine use of medically important antibiotics for the purposes of growth promotion or the habitual use of antibiotics for disease prevention.  Reduction, were possible without adverse effects on animal health and welfare remains the intended outcome of our commitment.” 

 

The policy governing antibiotic use will cover eighty percent of beef purchased by the company.  Catherine McLaughlin, Chair of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance commented favorably on the McDonald’s Corp. policy that she characterized as “a solid commitment to protecting and improving the health and welfare of animals and is supportive of industry-wide data collection to continue refining antibiotic use across beef industries.”

 

The Natural Resources Defense Council generally opposed to all forms of intensive livestock production, was less enthusiastic following the McDonald’s release. The organization noted that the Company has not established a definitive date for implementation of the program to eliminate antibiotics.  Lena Brook, Director of Food Campaigns at the Defense Council stated, “McDonald’s chose optics over substance with its new beef policy update.  This is especially disappointing given that McDonald’s is the largest beef buyer in the world and that the health threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues unabated.”

 

McDonald’s is a bellwether for the QSR segment and other chains will follow their lead. The problem will arise in enforcing compliance in imported beef products. This will require a substantial surveillance program with structured sample collection and assay for antibiotic residues.


 

Carbon Dioxide Release at Foster Farms Plant

A leak in a high-pressure tank holding carbon dioxide resulted in the evacuation of the Foster Farms Belgravia plant in Fresno, CA. on Friday, December 23rd. 

 

No workers or first responders were injured or affected by the incident.   The plant ceased operation during the afternoon but resumed production the following day.

 

The prompt response to the incident involving contingency planning and training, stands in stark contrast to the tragedy on January 28th 2021, at the Foundation Food Group plant in Gainesville, GA. when a release of nitrogen in a confined space resulted in the deaths of six workers and hospitalization, albeit temporary, of up to 130 employees exposed to a hypoxic environment.

 

It is inevitable that leakage of ammonia, nitrogen and carbon dioxide will occur despite high levels of maintenance and installations that conform to engineering codes.  The difference between tragedy and simply a period of down-time relates to preemptive action including planning, preventive maintenance, inspections, training of personnel and incident drills.


 

Tyson Foods Appoints Group President for Fresh Meats

Tyson Foods has reached out from their company bench to appoint Brady Stewart as Group President of Tyson Fresh Meats. Stewart will report to Donnie King, President and CEO of Tyson Foods, and will be responsible for expanding the company's red meat business.

 

Stewart will replace Shane Miller who is retiring after more than 30 years of service.  A smooth transition is anticipated as operations move to the expanded Tyson Foods corporate headquarters in Northwest Arkansas.

 

 Stewart is currently COO of Smithfield Foods, having worked for the company since 2017 when his employer, Kansas City Sausage was acquired.  In his most recent role at Smithfield, he was responsible for 500 company-owned hog farms and 46 production facilities and the associated supply chain.

 

In accepting the position Stewart noted, "the reputation of Tyson Foods and its products is world renowned and I am delighted to be joining the team to help drive growth and deliver for its customers and consumers.


 

Animal Legal Defense Fund Unsuccessful in Lawsuit Against Hormel Foods

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has agreed with Hormel Foods to dismiss a lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court.  The plaintiffs allege that Hormel misled consumers by advertising the Natural Choice brand of lunch meats and bacon.  The Animal Legal Defense Fund claimed that pork was produced using "additives, hormones and antibiotics".

In compliance with the agreement, Hormel will publish additional information on its website to define terms used on labels and will modify text in advertisements.


 

Compass Group Bans Gestation Crates

The Compass Group, a major catering operation supplying 10,000 institutions including colleges, and hospitals confirmed that it will transition to sourcing pork from group-housed sows by the summer of 2023, effectively eliminating suppliers using gestation crates.  The original intent was to purchase only gestation-crate free pork by 2017 but the target date was extended due to supply chain issues.

 

The Compass Group is only one of many food service providers, retailers and restaurant chains committed to sourcing pork from operations using group-housing of sows.

Irrespective of the outcome of the Supreme Court review of the constitutionality of California Proposition #12, as far as gestational crates are concerned, the train left the station a number of years ago. Packers, that have not followed the lead of competitors who have either converted or are in the process of conversion, will be at a disadvantage in the domestic market as they run out of customers.


 

United Nations Panel Accepts Safety of Cell-Cultured Meat

A panel convened by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization recently met in Singapore to discuss potential food safety hazards associated with cell-cultured meat.

 

The conclusion of the 24 experts from 15 nations was that "existing preventive measures and safety assurance procedures will be applicable to control hazards".  It is apparent that cultivated meat carries the same risks as conventional meat including microbiological contamination residues of potentially toxic compounds and drugs possibly introduced during fermentation cultivation or subsequent processing.

 

The experts considered that successful cultivation of product in commercial quantities presumes freedom from microbial contamination.  This is not necessarily absolute and obviously quality control procedures will be required to ensure freedom from known bacterial pathogens both during production and post-harvest.

In the U.S. it is intended that the FDA will have jurisdiction over methodology but with the USDA FSIS controlling production.

 


 

Development of Biosensor for Spoiled Meat

According to a December 9th posting in FoodSafety magazine, Concordia University has developed an inexpensive, paper-based synthetic sensor to detect putrescine, a toxic biogenic amine elaborated with spoilage of meat.  The sensor system was able to detect progressive spoilage, demonstrating differences between meat held under controlled conditions at either refrigeration or room temperature.

 

This technology is a potentially practical method of confirming spoilage currently relying on organoleptic examination that is subjective and subject to operator bias. Further development is necessary before the product will become commercially available.


 

Czech Republic “I Eat Meat” Campaign

With a substantial grant from the Czech Republic, Ministry of Agriculture, the Agrarian Chamber of the Nation initiated an “I Eat Meat” campaign.  The slogan, “I’m a carnivore and I’m not ashamed of it!” was used to promote real meat and to oppose plant-based meat substitutes.

 

The promotional campaign was initiated as a counter to vegan promotions, emphasizing sustainability and the indirect deleterious effect of production of red meat on the environment.  Publicity pointed to the highly processed nature of plant-based meat substitutes, including a number of additives including salt at a high level.  Although the campaign attempted to brand plant-meat substitutes as “unhealthy food”, there is no epidemiologic evidence to suggest that consumption of newly introduced meat substitutes containing plant proteins may lead to a range of metabolic conditions.


 

Environmental Impact of Lincoln Premium Poultry Complex Evaluated

When the Lincoln Premium Poultry Complex was proposed for the Freemont, NE. region, opponents cited potential environmental pollution as a negative factor.  The Complex established operation in 2019 and is now at the projected output of two million rotisserie-sized broilers per week for Costco.

The Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation (NFUF) commissioned Dr. Mat Sutton, a geologist to monitor nutrients and pathogens in area waters in localities potentially impacted by pollution from broiler houses.  Seven locations in five counties were selected for sampling with nutrient and pathogen levels quantified in surface water.  Assays demonstrated increases in phosphorous and both Salmonella and Campylobacter levels in surveys conducted in 2022, purporting to reflect the effect of farms in operation for over two years. The results were contained in a report entitled Poultry Litter and Stream Health. 

In response, Liberty Premium Poultry commissioned Nutrient Advisors to review the NFUF study. The president of the company commented that the data was not correlated with actual application of broiler litter to crops or pasture and discrepancies were evident in the temporal application of litter through the years 2019 through 2020.

 

Prior to commencing production, Lincoln Premium Poultry retained Nutrient Advisors to advise contractors on nutrient management practices.  Lincoln Premium Poultry has cast doubt on the validity of data collected on behalf of the NFUF.  The company maintains that the nitrogen produced by the ongoing operation represented 0.5 percent of the volume required to grow corn in the area potentially impacted by broiler production.

 

The possible impact of broiler production on the nitrogen and phosphorous enrichment of waterways will be a topic of growing concern for this complex as environmentalists have now made common cause with opponents of intensive livestock production.  The Lincoln Premium Poultry Complex is a valuable source of data since, prior to 2020, there was no broiler production in the counties where their growout farms are located.  Unless specific precautions are taken in sampling to avoid confounding, data may be misleading or misinterpreted to falsely demonstrate the impact of broiler production on phosphorous, nitrogen and pathogen levels in streams and groundwater. This has implications for permitting new complexes or expansion of existing centers of production.


 

Suppression of Salmonella Reading in Turkeys

Recently completed Project BRU015 funded by the USPOULTRY Foundation demonstrated the efficacy of both a commercial vaccine and an experimental product in suppressing intestinal colonization with Salmonella Reading in turkeys.  Dr. Shawn Pearson of the USDA, ARS National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA completed a study entitled Vaccination against Salmonella Enterica Serotype Reading: Evaluation of the Cross-Protective Salmonella BBS 866 Vaccine and the Avipro® Megan® Egg Vaccine at Reducing Outbreak-Associated S. Reading Colonization, Dissemination and Persistence in Turkeys.  Both the commercial Avipro® vaccine and USDA-ARS candidate BBS 866 were cross-protective and demonstrated potential as a pre-harvest intervention strategy.

 


 

Perdue Farms to Establish Pet Treat Plant

Perdue Farms will rehabilitate an existing food processing plant in Shelby, located in Western Michigan, to produce pet treats.  The project will involve an investment of $27 million and will employ 100 residents of Oceana County.  Products will be marketed under the Spot Farms™ and Full Moon™ pet treat brands.

 

Ron Maynard, Executive Director of the Oceana County Economic Alliance noted, "this is a great win for the village of Shelby and the County, we are pleased that Perdue Farms has chosen to invest in our community".


 

Sad Passing of Dr. Peter Woolcock

CHICK-NEWS notes the sad passing of Dr. Peter Woolcock who spent 22 years with the California Laboratory Diagnostic System in both Fresno and Davis before retirement in 2013.

 

A native of Great Britain, Dr. Woolcock received undergraduate degrees from Birmingham University and a doctorate in microbiology from Leeds University in 1974.  He immigrated to the U.S. in 1986 and assumed the position of Senior Research Associate at the Cornell University Duck Research Laboratory.  He joined CAHFS-Fresno as an avian virologist in 1991 transferring to the Davis laboratory in 2009.

 

He provided specialist virology services to the West Coast industry applying then current procedures.  Dr. Woolcock was noted for his expertise and willingness to assist poultry health professionals and academics with diagnostic virology and applied research projects. His expertise was in isolating viruses responsible for clinical outbreaks of disease followed by characterization applying classical laboratory techniques. His skills were instrumental in identifying a highly virulent strain of IBDV in the late 1980s facilitating eradication. Some of his isolates from field cases were used as vaccine candidates and for autogenous products.

 

His enthusiastic cooperation with the profession will be missed.

 


 

Shane Commentary

Obstacles to Adoption of Cell-Cultured Meat

As more start-up and established companies have announced impending commercial production of cell-cultured meat, questions arise as to the commercial viability of the range of products that will be offered.  At present, there is no comprehensive approval of cell-cultured meat despite the Food and Drug Administration indicating that it had no objection in principle to products following a review of documentation submitted by one aspirant producer of cell-cultured meat.  The U.S. FDA and USDA-FSIS have joint jurisdiction over cell-cultured meat and have yet to issue their regulations.

 

The market potential for cell-cultured meat may be discerned from the sales trajectory of plant-based meat substitutes introduced during the late 1990s.  Following a sharp increase in demand through 2020, consumer interest waned, and market growth has plateaued with every prospect of a decline.  JBS closed their Planterra operation and Maple Leaf Foods has reevaluated their considerable investment with an appropriate reduction in projected sales.  Beyond Meat (BYND) represents the only pure-play public traded plant-based manufacturer of meat substitutes. This Company has generated a dismal record since their IPO. Beyond Meat has posted increased losses, declining margins and progressively lower sales in both domestic and international markets over the past two years.

 

 There is general acceptance that the initial growth rate of plant-based products was fueled by a curiosity factor.  Given the unjustified premium in price between real meat and substitutes in the form of ground product and sausages, frugal consumers in an inflationary economy have failed to transition to plant-based products or have ceased purchasing based on perceived quality and cost.  The demographic willing to pay a premium for subjective attributes such as sustainability welfare and the environment is limited.

 

The plant-based substitute for meat industry has failed to convince consumers that their products are in some way “healthier” than conventional meat.  Labels indicate numerous additives and high salt content are of concern to those who obsess over “clean labels”.  Although many producers claim equivalent levels of protein, the amino acid profile of plant-based substitutes is inferior to real meat.

 

It is questioned whether cell-cultured meat will be directed to either the consumer market or to food service.  It is one thing to serve a $30 per plate entrée in a gourmet restaurant but an entirely different situation to achieve substitution for real meat on a vast scale by a major multinational QSR chain.  It is noted that the major QSRs have all trialed plant-based meat substitutes for limited periods without consumer appreciable acceptance.

 

Apart from cost, which will have to be equivalent to conventional meat, cell-cultured products will have to incorporate organoleptic qualities including texture, taste and appearance comparable to conventional meat, especially for the more expensive cuts.

 

To date, the developers of cell-cultured meat have demonstrated technical feasibility in pilot plants and have been lavishly supported by venture capital.  The real test will come following erection of capital-intensive production facilities with the inevitable problems of scaling up pilot production to commercial quantities.  Even if volumes can be achieved at equivalent cost to conventional meat, which is considered unlikely over the intermediate term, acceptance by both consumers and the food service sector is questionable unless benefits over and above environmental and welfare considerations are evident.

 

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