Editorial

OSHA Stipulations Following Plant Injuries

Following injuries to workers at the Zwanenberg Food Group USA plant in Cincinnati and inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Company was subjected to a $1.7 million fine and required to implement a safety program.

 

Zwanenberg Food Group USA is a subsidiary of the Zwanenberg Food Group in Holland that operates twelve production plants.  Zwanenberg processes hams, luncheon meats and pastas under the Southgate and private label brands.

 

As part of the Consent Agreement, the company will invest close to $2 million in safety improvements.  The list of required upgrades and procedural improvements serves as a to-do list for the entire industry with prevention obviously less expensive and more productive than having to record injuries. Serious cases involving hospitalization result in action by state and federal regulatory agencies, lawsuits and degradation of company image.  The Zwanenberg case is similar to other reported problem plants with deficiencies in equipment, training and the use of contract labor for cleaning and decontamination.

 

The list of requirements imposed by OSHA represents a blueprint to develop a safety culture and an acceptable working environment.

 

  • As a preliminary requirement, OSHA imposed an independent third-party audit of the facility and equipment including personal protective equipment, communication of hazards and specific reference to lockout and tagout procedures.
  • OSHA required the introduction of a health management system including a safety committee allowing workers to identify hazards and to work with management to resolve issues.
  • In view of the fact that injuries were in contract workers or newly employed personnel with inadequate training, OSHA has required the company to transition to permanent employees and to introduce an approved training program.
  •  All employees will be required to receive training on machine safety procedures with an emphasis on lockout and tagout procedures. 
  • With the aid of a competent, independent consultant, the company was required to develop a safety manual outlining procedures for operation, maintenance and cleaning of all equipment.  Mandatory safety training was required with appropriate records including “near-miss reporting”. 
  • All newly-hired employees will be required to undergo a safety and injury prevention program during orientation in addition to documented ongoing training,

 

The meat industry has experienced problems relating to use of contract labor for third shift cleaning.  Companies undertaking services have been subject to penalties for employing underage workers and failure to train these contract employees in lock out and tag out operations. Deficiencies including lack of training and supervision and the inherent inability of foreign workers to follow instructions in standard English have resulted in a wide range of injuries ranging from amputation of digits to death.

 

The requirements imposed on Zwanenberg by OSHA encompass the range of activities necessary to prevent injury and to promote a safe working environment.

 

Poultry Industry News

The High Cost of Recalls

According to an FDA release, FGF Brands Inc. has recalled 12,000 cases of chocolate chip muffins supplied to Aldi.  The muffins were distributed nationwide and were packed in four-count containers. The recall was issued following disclosure that walnuts were incorporated in the product without appropriate label disclosure.

 

In reviewing the causes of recalls, more than half were attributed to mislabeling usually relating to designated allergens.  Collectively these recalls represent a considerable wastage of food and a substantial risk of adverse reaction among those sensitive to allergens including milk, nuts and soybean proteins.  Recalls due to mislabeling and are caused by failures in quality control procedures in food packing plants. Fortunately many recalls are initiated by manufacturers following in-plant recognition of errors. This expedites recall and avoided possible adverse health events.

 

Failure to regulate and document batch sizes may result in extensive recalls.  This especially the situation with ground meat products including turkey with a failure to identify and isolate production lots.  This is illustrated by the demise of Hudson Foods in 1997 following a ground beef recall of 25 million lbs. and the 2011 recall of 36 million lbs. of ground turkey processed by Cargill.

 


 

USAPEEC Promotes U. S. Chicken in Taiwan

Concurrent with the Food Taipei Mega Show attended by more than 47,000 visitors, USAPEEC arranged a Gratitude Dinner for members of the Poultry Association of the Republic of China.  The Association, founded in 1993, has more than 200 members throughout Taiwan and is involved in the trade of both domestic and imported chicken.

 

Taiwan has experienced shortages of chicken due to outbreaks of HPAI in previous years including 2023.  Currently with restocking, there is a temporary over-supply with a sharp decline in wholesale prices expected to persist for many months.

 

USAPEEC maintains a close relationship with the Poultry Association and the Poultry Sales and Development Association of Taiwan given their respective roles in both production and importation.

 

During 2023, 3rd-ranked Taiwan imported 272,289 metric tons of U.S. chicken products valued at $352 million, and respectively 16 and 24 percent higher in volume and value compared to 2022.


 

USAPEEC Workshop to Promote U.S. Turkey Consumption in Mexico

Using funding provided by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, USAPEEC recently conducted a combination in-person and zoom program to promote products using U.S. turkey meat.  This was the fourth in a series of eight workshops and was led by Ruben Mora, Chef Consultant to USAPEEC.  Under his guidance, workshop attendees prepared a turkey sriracha crispy bowl with ingredients provided by Dos Familias.

 

In 2023, Mexico imported 150,510 metric tons of turkey meat valued at $426 million, up 16 percent in volume from 2022.  For the first four months of 2024, Mexico imported 51,818 metric tons of turkey meat valued at $145 million, with a unit price of $2,798 per metric ton.  Mexico is consistently the leading importer of turkey meat, far exceeding any other nation or region


 

Upside Foods Continues Staff Reduction

Following a “selective role elimination”  (read layoffs) in February, Upside Foods has now terminated an unspecified number of employees at their sole Emeryville, CA. facility.  Since 2015 the company has raised $608 million from venture capital investors.  To date Upside Foods along with competitors has been unable to transition from pilot level cell culture in roller bottles to commercial production in bioreactors.

 

 

In a recent presentation, Dr. Uma Valeti trotted out the usual homilies regarding enhanced sustainability and limiting greenhouse gas emissions that are in any event widely disputed, as justification for the future of cell-cultured meat.  Valeti appears to ascribe lack of progress in consumer interest and commercialization to legislative action either as outright banning on sale of cell cultured meat in specific states or onerous labeling requirements.  The problem facing the aspirant manufacturers of cell-cultured meat relate to their collective inability to produce at scale. Projections of cost, failed promises following unsubstantiated hype over availability and questions concerning quality have created skepticism among potential consumers.  Recent studies conducted by Purdue University suggest that consumers are satisfied with their present diets and although there is some curiosity, wide-scale replacement of beef, pork and chicken with cell-cultured alternatives is unlikely even if price and availability were not negative attributes.

 

Despite previous hype and subsequently proven misinformation, Upside Foods acknowledges that it is not ready for “prime time” and is considering a hybrid product combining some cell cultured meat with plant-based protein.  Dr. Valeti claims that the Company will be adding additional cultivators at the Emeryville plant “for larger and more efficient scale by maintaining the taste, quality and safety that we’ve been able to consistently achieve at the 2,000-liter scale.”  This claim is contradicted by ex-employees who maintain that the company has never achieved consistent production using bioreactors.  Valeti confirmed that Upside Foods is still using 2-liter plastic flasks and has failed to market other than hand-processed product in limited quantities for a gourmet restaurant.

 

Good Meat, an iteration of entrepreneur Josh Tetrick, is facing large claims for non-payment of debt associated with orders for bioreactors. Companies operated by Tetrick are “developing new cell lines to enable more efficient large-scale production.” This statement suggests that the Company has drawn in its horns and is apparently not contemplating large-scale cultivated meat production, presumably based on an inability to raise funds.

 

It remains to be seen whether Believer Meats, a company that originated in Israel and is building a production facility in North Carolina will achieve commercial production following anticipated regulatory approval. 

 

After committing as much as $3 billion to developing cell-cultured meat technology neither venture capitalists nor aspirant producers have anything remotely commercial to show for their investment.  Cell-cultured meat has a great future behind it.


 

Conversion of Pasta Plant to Processed Meats

Home Market Foods will convert the former Carla’s Pasta production plant in South Windsor, CT., to produce hot dogs and sausages for convenience stores across North America.  The investment of $70 million in the project will allow production to begin during mid-2025 to expand the capacity of the Company.  Installations will incorporate energy efficiency and sustainability. Conversion of the plant to meat items will create 210 new positions with recruitment underway for engineers, technicians and supervisors.


 

Implications of Bovine-Influenza-H5N1

The current fragmented approach to establishing the epidemiology of bovine influenza-H5N1 is clearly inhibiting progress in gaining an understanding of the disease in order to implement preventive action.  Federal regulators, state departments of agriculture, public health agencies and the dairy industry evidently have divergent objectives. There is clearly no central authority to coordinate surveillance and allocate resources to develop and implement a common response plan. 

 

Surveillance of herds and workers should be intensified, to determine the extent of infection that may be far broader than currently recognized.  Whole genome sequencing of isolates should be implemented in cooperation with international WHO reference laboratories to monitor for changes that may predict the emergence of a zoonotic strain.  Parallels between the USDA response to bovine influenza-H5N1 is eerily reminiscent of the situation in China regarding COVID in 2019 or the emergence of SARS two decades earlier.  Time is critical in developing a response to an emerging livestock and potentially zoonotic infection.

 

 Appropriate action taken now will potentially save herds, flocks and lives and the cost of a response should there be changes in the virus that enhance the capacity for human infection and contagion.  Wishful thinking expressed as “If we can stop the movement of cattle and improve biosecurity we can eliminate the virus” appears to characterize the current USDA position. This represents an attitude of institutional self-denial that could have dire consequences for the U.S. milk industry, public health and the economy of the U.S.


 

Rabobank Predicts Moderate Global Chicken Expansion

In their quarterly Global Poultry Review, Rabobank anticipates a 1.5 to 2.0 percent year-over-year expansion in global broiler production.

Consumption will be driven by increased spending power with demand for value-added products.  A decline in feed cost representing more than 65 percent of live bird expenditure is  currently beneficial, but ingredient prices may rise as a result of climatic extremes and freight-related cost influenced by geopolitical events.  Avian influenza is now endemic in many areas of the world and will be an important consideration during the winter seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres respectively.

Overproduction in China will continue and will constrain imports.  This will result in the U.S., Brazil and possibly Russia searching for other markets for low-priced commodity products including leg quarters and even feet.


 

Brazil Chicken Exports

According to the Industry Meat Export Association, ABPA of Brazil, chicken exports during June were 0.8 percent higher than the 2023 monthly average, attaining 431,400 metric tons.  Increased exports are apparently at the expense of the U.S. according to Luisor Rua, Market Director for ABPA.

 

Brazil has achieved market penetration in Latin America including Mexico and Chile offsetting the loss to China, with a 29 percent reduction based on domestic oversupply in that nation.

 

Increased exports have come at a cost with value declining by 10.3 percent over the first half of 2024 compared to the corresponding months in 2023 at $4.64 billion.

 


 

Maple Leaf Foods to Spin Off Pork Operations

Maple Leaf Foods has announced that the pork business will be spun off, creating two separate public-traded companies. It is presumed that Maple Leaf will continue to operate the chicken business and the previous plant-based segment. Maple Leaf Foods will retain 20 percent of the pork business and will continue to incorporate pork into the company supply chain in accordance with a long-term contract to support the range of value-added, branded products sold in North America.

 

Curtis Frank, President and CEO of Maple Leaf, noted, “This transaction is the start of a new era to unlock the full potential of two outstanding businesses each with a distinct value proposition and growth opportunities.” The proposed pork company will be led by Dennis Organ as CEO.  He previously served as the President of the company pork operations.

 

Michael H. McCain, Executive Chair of Maple Leaf Foods, stated, “This is the right transaction at the right time as we move forward with our sustainability vision seeking to create value for all stakeholders.”

 

The most recent quarterly report for Maple Leaf Foods can be accessed by entering “Maple Leaf” in the SEARCH block.


 

Smithfield Foods Considering IPO

Smithfield Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of WH Group, a public traded company in China is considering an initial public offering.  The Company acquired in 2013, has engaged Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America to facilitate the IPO that would raise up to $1 billion.

 

WH Group led by Chairman Wang Long with 17 percent of the equity, is the largest Pork producer in the World. Smithfield Foods is the leader in volume in the U.S. The Company has responded to declining margins and adverse market conditions by consolidation, closing unprofitable plants and mothballing breeder farms with layoffs of workers and other personnel. 

 

For Fiscal 2023 the WH Group earned $629 million on revenue of $26,236 million representing a decline in income of 54 percent from FY 2022.


 

Seaboard Foods Appoints CEO

Effective July 1st, Chad Groves has been appointed president and CEO of Seaboard Foods.  Groves joined the Company three years ago as Senior Vice-president of Global Sales, Marketing and Innovation.  He was previously affiliated with Trilliant Food and Nutrition LLC and served as a Board member and Treasurer of the National Pork Board.

 

In accepting the position, Groves stated, “ I’m excited to lead Seaboard Foods and my focus will remain committed to bringing excellence to the table and finding innovative ways to add value to our connected food system”.

 

Seaboard is the majority owner of Butterball LLC. a major U.S. turkey integrator

 


 

Mountaire Farms Lawsuit Over Water Contamination Revisited

In 2001, Mountaire Farms settled a lawsuit with 800 members of a class alleging contamination of subterranean water as a result of inadequate effluent treatment. As a condition of the settlement, Mountaire upgraded water treatment at their Millsboro, DE. plant involving the expenditure of $120 million.  The settlement settled a dispute over a 2017 wastewater permit issued by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

More recently, a family with a child born with developmental defects has claimed that they were improperly advised at the time of the settlement that provided inadequate compensation for the costs that will be incurred.  A Delaware Superior Court judge has ruled that the family was adequately advised concerning their rights to opt out of the settlement and that there is insufficient evidence to implicate the disabilities with alleged contamination by Mountaire Farms.  The case is now being appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court with the family represented by a prominent legal firm with expertise in claiming compensation for environmental contamination.

Should the family be successful in their appeal, and prevail in a subsequent action, the precedent that will be established will have implications for the livestock industry both at the CAFO and processing plant levels.


 

USAPEEC Sponsors Promotional Program in Mexico

Alco, a leading Mexican processor featuring high-quality U.S. chicken meat, launched its new line of value-added chicken products at Soriana, a popular retail chain in Mexico City recently, with USAPEEC Mexico hosting a workshop with participation to celebrate the launch.

 

The workshop attracted 87 attendees, 80 of whom received ingredients kits featuring chicken fillets donated by Alco. USAPEEC Marketing Consultant Carlos Garcia hosted the workshop, which included a live demonstration by chef Ruben Mora who showcased product versatility and taste by preparing chicken fillets stuffed with poblano chili and cheese.

 

The one-hour workshop was live-streamed on Zoom, allowing viewers to participate in the culinary experience. This workshop was the third of six events planned by USAPEEC Mexico.

 

For additional details contact Liliana Solis USAPEEC Marketing Manager at <lsolis@usapeec.org.mx>


 

Costs of Compliance with Better Chicken Commitment in the E.U.

Welfare activists have promoted the Better Chicken Commitment in Europe through exerting pressure on retail chains, food service companies and restaurants. The Better Chicken Commitment requires the use of slow-growing strains, low stocking density and enrichments in growing houses.

 

At the outset there is no evidence that the requirements imposed under the Better Chicken Commitment standards actually improve welfare over and above the standards adopted by the Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the E.U. (AVEC) that approximate NCC standards in the U.S. 

 

A recent study commissioned by AVEC conducted by RSK ADAS Ltd. an agribusiness consultancy has quantified the impact of the Better Chicken Commitment standards.  This study Cost and Implications of the European Chicken Commitment in the E.U. determined:

 

  • An additional production cost of 37.5 percent per unit of RTC

 

  • A 35.4 percent increase in water consumption

 

  • A 35.5 percent increase in feed consumption requiring an additional 7.3 million tons of feed for E.U. nations.

 

  • A 24.4 rise in greenhouse gas emissions per unit of RTC weight produced.

 

  • A reduction in 44 percent in the total meat produced compared to existing standard production parameters (6.2 lbs./ft2 stocking density).  If the Better Chicken Commitment stocking density were to be applied, to maintain current production, close to 10,000 new broiler houses would be required with an investment of $9 billion.

 

Dr. Birthe Steenberg, Secretary General of AVEC stated, “The unique aspect of this study lies in the emphasis placed on calculating costs per unit weight of RTC unlike previous research that focus solely on consequences for live birds or live weight that does not acutely reflect market realities since we sell meat not live animals”.

 

Dr, Jason Gittins, Technical Direct for ADAS stated, “Due to differences in meat yields between current standards and the Better Chicken Commitment earlier studies underestimated the true impact of the requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment.

 

Gert-Jan Opelaat, president of  AVEC noted, “While the Better Chicken Commitment aims to improve animal welfare it is crucial to recognize that these improvements come with significant economic and environmental implications.”  He added, “Consumers should have the choice to select higher welfare products if they wish but it is crucial that standard, affordable options remain available.

 

It is axiomatic that opponents of intensive livestock production attempt to impose anthropomorphic parameters on producers that result in increases in cost.  Essentially advocates of systems such as the Better Chicken Commitment gain a sense of self-satisfaction from reducing the potential demand for chicken based on elevated price.  These promoters of “welfare” are not content to suggest adoption of enhanced welfare standards on a voluntary basis but are coercing retailers and the food service and restaurants segments of the distribution industry into adopting standards without considering the cost implications for consumers.  Advocates for systems such as the Better Chicken Commitment ignore the reality that they are spending other people’s money. This is evident in the “Pacelle Tax” paid by California egg consumers following introduction of Proposition #2.

 


 

World Organization for Animal Health Adopts Standards on Slaughter

The 91st General Session of the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) adopted the Revised International Standards on Animal Welfare During Slaughter.  The standard will be incorporated in Chapter 7.5 of the Terrestrial Code.  The standard allows for animal-based measures to assess the level of welfare and stipulates the need for remedial and corrective action as required.  Aspects of the standard include structure and surfaces of abattoirs, installation of equipment to prevent injury, adequate lighting and appropriate stunning. 

 

Establishing a uniform standard will be important with respect to international trade and should raise the level of welfare associated with meat and poultry production.


 

Coercion of Lidl by Activist Vegan Group

The Albert Schweitzer Foundation an extremist entity advocating for a vegan lifestyle and therefore opposed to intensive livestock production, has initiated a campaign against grocery chain Lidl in Europe.  The Albert Schweitzer Foundation supported by activist groups Open Cages, and the Animal Welfare Observatory collected retail chicken on display from 22 Lidl stores in Italy, Spain, Great Britain and Poland.

 

Samples were obtained from each store and were assayed for foodborne bacterial pathogens: -

  • Salmonella was isolated from 9 percent of 94 samples in the E.U.
  • Listeria (species not revealed) was detected in one third of samples in the E.U., a surprisingly high level.
  • Campylobacter was found in 32 of 48 samples, with a 50 percent recovery rate from Germany, a not unexpected finding
  • In contrast, the results in the U.K. yielded 12 out of 40 samples positive for Listeria but the laboratory was unable to demonstrate the presence of either Salmonella or Campylobacter, a surprising result.
  • A third of the chicken samples from Germany yielded methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and with samples from Spain, demonstrating a 71 percent contamination rate with the pathogen.

 

The results were used by the Albert Schweitzer Foundation to coerce Lidl into adopting “better chicken farming across the board”.  It is generally accepted that welfare organizations in the E.U. are attempting to force retailers and food service companies to source chicken from suppliers conforming to the “Better Chicken Commitment”.  The standards required impose a higher cost of production, presumably to be passed down to consumers.  It is unclear how increasing space requirements for birds on litter or providing enrichments will reduce bacterial contamination on RTC products.

 

In commenting on the results of the assay conducted by the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, the Food Safety Agency of the U.K. emphasized long-standing recommendations that chicken and other meats should be cooked before consumption and not consumed raw.

 

Lidl issued a statement of clarification, noting “We work closely with our suppliers and a multitude of industry partners aligning our policies with the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance and the Food Industry Initiative on Antimicrobials to ensure the responsible application of recommended use of antibiotics when ensuring animal welfare remains a priority.”

 

The statement continued, “Our own testing shows that in the last twelve months there have not been any microbial-related deviations outside legal levels and no concerns have been raised to us by any regulatory bodies on this topic”.

 

Lidl welcomed opponents to provide “real and verified concerns regarding the alleged presence of pathogens”.

 

The assays commissioned by the activist group should not be taken as representative of bacterial contamination of chicken in the E.U. or the U.K.in chicken marketed by Lidl or any other chain.  Specifically, levels of Listeria and MRSA are inconsistent with established industry values.

 


 

China to Impose Anti-Dumping Duties on E.U. Pork

Faced with a domestic oversupply of pork, officials in China are evaluating whether to impose anti-dumping duties on pork from the E.U.  China has conducted an “investigation” into costs pertaining in Europe. The real issue is the imposition of anti-dumping duties on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) manufactured with presumed subsidy support from the Government of China. Canada has joined the E.U and the U.S. in excluding EVs from China in their respective markets.

 

China is extremely sensitive to imposition of duties on their products and invariably retaliates with reciprocal action. Two successive U.S. Administrations have imposed and maintained duties on a range of subsidised imports from China. With the possibility of an intensification of a trade war, producers of soybeans, corn and wheat should prepare for a decline in export volume and value.  Entreaties by the American Soybean Association to keep food out of trade wars will be unlikely to sway China.  This nation is committed to self-benefit and will import U.S. agricultural commodities as and when required. Imports by China take into account prevailing landed prices and there is no sentiment in international trade in commodities. This reality should be factored into consideration with respect to 2025 planting intentions.


 

Wayne-Sanderson Terminates Administrative Positions

Following acquisition of Sanderson Farms by a consortium comprising Cargill Inc and Continental Grain operating as Wayne Farms, inevitable consolidation and downsizing is taking place.  Press reports note that as many as forty administrative workers at the previous Sanderson Farms headquarters in Laurel, MS will become redundant.

The benefits of mergers and acquisitions are associated with combining service and administrative functions thereby reducing overhead costs. This is necessary ­­­in a competitive industry.

 


 

McPlant Unavailable in the U.S.

In comments delivered at the Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum, Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald’s U.S., confirmed that his company had no interest in serving plant-based burgers for the U.S. market. He stated, “U.S. consumers aren’t coming to McDonald’s looking for the McPlant or other plant-based proteins.”  This conclusion was based on a one-year test conducted between 2021 and 2022 in both San Francisco and Dallas. In contrast, plant-based meat alternatives are acceptable in the E.U. and U.K.

 

It is understood that other QSR chains have trialed plant-based burgers without success.  It remains to be seen whether plant-based ersatz chicken nuggets will be more successful.  Given current prices of real and alternative meat products, it is doubtful whether plant-based products will gain traction in mainstream chains.


 

Metapneumovirus Affects Turkey and Chicken Flocks in Canada

Authorities in Canada have reported a series of outbreaks of metapneumovirus (AMPV)in turkeys and chickens to the World Organization for Animal Health.  The 10 cases in Ontario involved four commercial chicken farms and the remainder turkeys.  Manitoba has reported one incident case in turkeys.  Isolates from Ontario yielded MPV-B variant from nine farms and one case of MPV-A with this same variant from Manitoba.

In turkeys AMPV is referred to as turkey rhinotracheitis presenting clinically as an upper respiratory infection with swollen heads.  Egg production in mature turkey flocks drops sharply with a deterioration in shell quality.  Broiler chickens demonstrate a similar syndrome to turkeys with pronounced swelling of the subcutaneous tissues of the head.  Laying hens are either asymptomatic or show mild respiratory signs with depressed egg production.


 

Popeyes® Introduces Boneless Wings

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has introduced boneless wings as a permanent menu item nationwide.  The product will be available in a range of flavors and prepared from all-white chicken meat coated with a batter.

 

It is questioned why boneless wings are prepared using white meat. Cost would be reduced and texture improved with incorporation of a high proportion of dark meat

 

Popeyes has engaged the services of Jimmie O Yang to promote the product.


 

USDA “Fair and Competitive Livestock and Poultry Markets” Proposed Rule Strongly Opposed

Following the June 25th announcement of the “Fair and Competitive Livestock and Poultry Markets Rule”, the National Chicken Council and the Meat Institute issued strong objections to what is regarded as a heavy-handed solution to a nonexistent problem.

 

The interim president of the National Chicken Council, Gary Kushner, himself a veteran member of the bar stated, “Eight different Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal have addressed the key issues under pending the proposed Rule, entitled “The need to establish injury to competition to demonstrate a violation.”  The statement continued, “Rather than accept the Courts’ decisions Secretary Vilsack and this Administration are trying to circumvent Congress, has misused the lawmaking process to achieve what they have not won in court and what Congress has never authorized.”

 

The NCC correctly maintains that the proposed rule will lead to frivolous lawsuits and expensive litigation.  This consequence is apparently encouraged by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter who has openly expressed a hope that plaintiffs will file a Packers’ and Stockyards Act claim against broiler integrators.

 

The NCC characterized the Rule as “ill-advised” and would have unintended consequences including increased costs for consumers.


 

Kazakhstan to Establish an Integrated Broiler Production Complex

According to the Kazakhstan Investment Agency, a complex planned to produce 240,000 tons of RTC annually will be established near Almaty in Kazakhstan.  The project has a projected price tag of $600 million and will be the largest in the Commonwealth of Independence States comprising eight nations formally part of the Soviet Union.

Given the projected volume corresponding to 2.5 million broilers of 4lb RTC the capital cost is unrealistically low for the stated level. Assuming the need for breeder farms, hatchery, growing houses, feed mill and processing plant following the Eurasian model, either the volume is overstated or the cost as reported is incorrect, even without a provision for land.

 


 

Hormel Seeking to Diversify Customer Base

According to recent comments by Hormel CEO, James P. Snee, the Company will expand product scope to capture new distribution channels. Hormel will promote products including snacks comprising their Planter’s Nut brand and a range of pork and turkey products through convenience stores that offer potential for increased sales.  Hormel is also promoting Jennie-O ground turkey through retail channels despite indications of oversupply.  Hormel is also accessing the market for pizza toppings and sliced meats.

 

Initiatives to reduce costs have been implemented through streamlining the supply channel and application of technology. The implied benefits of improved planning and execution will be evident in subsequent quarterly reports according to Snee.


 

Cattle Producers Concerned over Cargill Strike Before Settlement

Before the Dunlop, ONT strike was settled, The Canadian Cattle Association, the National Cattle Feeders Association and Beef Farmers of Ontario issued a statement urging UFCW and Cargill to resolve issues.  Workers closed the plant on May 27th over  wages, benefits and security.  The plant was responsible for processing over 70 percent of cattle in Ontario and the eastern region of Canada.  The situation was exacerbated by the strike vote taken by workers in Cargill plants in Alberta who have threatened labor action in support of the Ontario UFCW Local 175.

The joint statement issued by the producers’ organizations included “Canadian beef producers rely on a strong and stable supply chain to get beef to Canadian and our global customers as efficiently as possible.”  The statement added, “While we fully respect and support the collective bargaining process we cannot turn a blind eye to the effect this stalemate is having on our beef industry.   Accordingly the UFCW Locals involved reached a tentative agreement  with Cargill that was approved by rank and file over the July 6th weekend.

 


 

Alimentec trade show 2024 a Showcase for USAPEEC Members

USAPEEC participated in the 12th edition of the Alimentec Trade Show, held recently in Bogotá, Colombia. This nation is the third-largest economy in Latin America, with a population of 50 million and a growing middle class, representing a large potential market.

 

Alimentec is the premier platform for the food, beverage, and hospitality industries in the Andean region, the Caribbean, and Latin America and offers an ideal opportunity to showcase food products and services for the HRI, retail, and supermarket sectors of Latin America.

 

More than 30,000 attended the Show, allowing USAPEEC to expand its network of contacts. From visitors to the USAPEEC booth, 158 contacts were made with companies in the region allowing USAPEEC to provide information about members and their products. Francisco Palmieri the U.S. Embassy Charge D’Affaires to Colombia visited the USAPEEC booth.

In 2023 Central and South America combined with the Caribbean imported 851,326 metric tons of broiler products representing 23.4 percent of exports. Value attained $1,093 million, equivalent to 23.1 percent of the total and with a unit price of $1,284 per metric ton.


 

Aviagen Completes Annual Production Management School

Aviagen North America completed the 61st Annual Production Management School on June 27th in Huntsville, AL.  The event was attended by 35 students from 20 nations and extended over a month. The Production Management School included both classroom instruction and practical farm experience. Students visited the Production Development Center in Albertville, AL, the Egg Distribution Center and Veterinary Laboratory in Elkmont, AL and the Pikeville, TN. Feed Mill and the National Poultry Technology Center at Auburn University.

 

 

The Aviagen approach is to “train the trainer” providing knowledge and experience that can be shared with colleagues in their home operations Course topics included welfare, biosecurity, compartmentalization, promoting food safety, vaccination and disease management and operation of hatcheries among 35 items covered. The four-week program allowed students to interact and exchange ideas and to establish team-building activities.

 

Dr. Marc DeBeer president of Aviagen North America stated, “Our goal with the North American School is to give our customers valuable perspectives on effective management techniques that are proven to enhance both broiler and breeder welfare, sustainability and productivity in poultry operations.”

 

For additional information on the Aviagen Production Management School, access the Aviagen website by clicking onto the Company logo on the right side of the Welcome page.


 

National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry

In a July 1st release, USPOULTRY announced the 2024 National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry to take place August 19th-21st at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa in Destin, FL.

 

Topics to be considered include a Washington update; Establishing a culture of safety and health; Onboarding and safety training best-practices; Sanitation safety best practices; Processing hazard analyses; Handling inspections and the new walk-around rule.

 

The meeting will allow an opportunity for networking and the exchange of knowledge.

 

The agenda and registration details are available on www.USPOULTRY.org.


 

Meat Institute Concerned Over Retaliatory Tariffs Imposed by China

In 2018, the previous Administration imposed Section 301 tariffs on imports from China.  This resulted in retaliatory tariffs, placing U.S. pork in a non-competitive situation relative to the E.U.  Pork imported from the U.S. carries a 25 percent tariff over and above the most-favored-nation rate of eight percent.

 

Section 301 tariffs were retained by the current Administration and are regarded by agricultural exporters as onerous.  Despite the Phase One Agreement, China, predictably dragged its feet on establishing an approved establishment list and effectively failed to comply with the Agreement.  China also requires certification that pork is derived from herds fed either ractopamine (justified) or Codex-approved beta agonists (unjustified). 


 

Increasing Incidence of Bovine Influenza-H5N1 Raises Questions

With the 12th state reporting bovine influenza-H5N1, and with over 120 confirmed herds as of June 10th, USDA is faced with a problem of transparency.  Daily updates of websites should be achievable.  Release of isolates for genome sequencing is essential with participation by WHO influenza reference laboratories in the U.S. and in Europe. Simply beating the drum of improving biosecurity pays lip service to the emerging problem.

 

It is fortunate that heat treatment inactivates the virus in fluid milk so pasteurized milk and dairy products should be safe to consume.  The question of transmissibility to human contacts appears to be extremely limited at present but it will be critical to continually monitor for mutations that may facilitate infection of human respiratory tissue.  At the present time all three identified patients who contracted H5N1 infection demonstrated conjunctivitis (with only one displaying mild upper respiratory signs).  This is due to the fact that conjunctival tissue along with bovine mammary glands contains sialic receptors to both avian and mammalian strains of H5N1.

 

In a ProMED posting moderator JH questions whether the USDA will initiate surveillance of beef cattle in feed-lots to establish whether infection has entered these herds.  JH opined “Given the geographic coverage of the USDA map, odds are not in our favor that beef cattle haven’t been infected.  Until a few months ago spill-over of H5N1 into bovines was reviewed as unlikely even though infection with several influenza A variants have occurred on a limited basis previously in cattle.  Even cow-calf operations may be at risk, given that their water may be contaminated by free-living birds excreting H5N1 virus, known to survive for prolonged periods in water containing organic matter. 

 

Is the reluctance to establish a limited testing problem based on the presumption that it is best  not to turn over rocks unless one knows what might be under them?  Assay of muscle tissue from culled dairy cows subjected to antemortem condemnation has yielded H5N1 virus.  The implications for asymptomatic infection of beef cattle are self-evident.  Fortunately it has been shown that heat treatment adequate to kill foodborne bacteria infection inactivates H5N1 virus.

 

At the present time the CDC is calling for all milk from herds with cases of bovine influenza-H5N1 to be withheld from market. This recommendation is based on prudence, notwithstanding the effectiveness of pasteurization. If this policy were to be implemented there would be absolutely no voluntary reporting of cases and a call for federal indemnification. Steve Naig, the Iowa Commissioner of Agriculture has called for Federal compensation for herd operators to cover losses. A proportion of affected dairy cows have either died from H5N2 infection or have been culled as a result of chronic low lactation with unsalable milk.


 

Shane Commentary

Designation of Salmonella as an Adulterant in Stuffed, Raw Chicken Products

The USDA-FSIS has proposed an effective zero tolerance for any Salmonella contamination in raw, stuffed chicken products.  Opposition to the proposal is probably unjustified although is based less on risks associated with the specific product than the fear of extension to a wider range of chicken preparations.  It is a matter of record that Attorney Robert Marler has submitted a petition to FSIS to designate numerous known pathogenic Salmonella as adulterants in all chicken whether whole birds, portions or further processed items.

The situation with regard to raw, stuffed chicken products does not represent a major food safety concern. Over the past 25 years there have been 14 outbreaks and 200 illnesses

 

attributed to raw breaded products. These represent less than 0.1 percent of total consumption of chicken by volume but five percent of all chicken associated outbreaks.

 

The industry has justifiably contended that labeling should be adequate to inform consumers of the need to thoroughly cook raw breaded or stuffed chicken products. Unfortunately microwave reheating allows Salmonella and other potential pathogens to survive.  The National Chicken Council noted, “There is no silver bullet nor a one-size-fits-all approach to food safety which is why we employ a multi-level strategy.”  The NCC invokes science-based procedures and recommends handling and cooking properly in home and institutional kitchens. 

 

From the perspective of an academic and a past researcher on Campylobacter infection, it is questioned why breaded and stuffed products are sold as raw rather than cooked presentations.  If Salmonella is regarded as a risk, cooking during production would eliminate the problem. Since stuffed chicken products are marketed as lightly browned they create the deceptive perception of having been cooked. Labeling cannot overcome stupidity or negligence.  If there are organoleptic reasons to continue marketing a raw, stuffed chicken product, irradiation using electron beam treatment could be applied as an effective kill step.  By the same token, IQF products could also be free of non-spore forming bacterial pathogens including Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria.

 

It is highly likely that the FSIS will enforce the status of Salmonella as an adulterant for raw products irrespective of the opposition by the NCC. The possibility of FSIS extending restrictions beyond stuffed products to a wider range of chicken presentations is a consideration of concern.

 

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