Veal Quality Assurance
The North American Meat Institute, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, recently received funding authorization from the Beef Promotion Operating Committee to re-activate the Veal Quality Assurance (VQA) program through September 30, 2016. The program has been highly valued by stakeholders in the veal industry, and the funding authorization will enable the program to function fully. In addition to setting forth best industry production practices for veal farmers, VQA is increasingly seen as a marketing tool to address consumer concerns about animal care and well-being.
For a veal farmer to receive VQA Certification they must complete a thorough review of the VQA certification program materials, participate in a VQA educational seminar, confirm a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship, and by working with a licensed veterinarian, complete a farm plan/self-assessment. Producers must be re-certified every 2 years. Producers certified in 2014 will need to be re-certified by the end of 2016.
The Beef Checkoff “Eat Better Eat Veal” retail promotion ended on March 28th with over 200,000 entries. Christina B from Westminster, Maryland was selected the Grand prize winner. The prize presentation took place at Ahold Giant in Westminster, Maryland. Congratulations Christina!
Beef Council Helps Students with Cooking
BEDFORD, PA – Beef and Veal have been hot commodities this past year in middle and high school culinary classrooms across the commonwealth. For its fifth year, the Pennsylvania Beef Council provided beef or veal grants to family and consumer science teachers during the 2015-2016 school year with approximately 5,600 students benefiting from the grant program.
This year, the beef council had the opportunity to visit two culinary classrooms utilizing the grant, with the first visit to Ms. Brill’s class at Keystone Oaks High School on March 15. Staff enjoyed watching the students learn about cooking with beef and preparing a Cheesesteak Pizza.
The session also included an overview of the veal industry and up-close look at the beef and veal resources available for in-class use such as lesson plans and access to Farmland, a film that profiles farmers and ranchers in their twenties, all of whom have assumed the generational responsibility of running the family business. The session also served as an opportunity to launch the Beef & Veal in the Classroom grant program for the 2016-2017 school year.
Register for 2016 Center of the Plate Training®. Registration is now open for the 2016 Center of the Plate (COP) Training®, scheduled to take place June 14-16, in College Station, Texas. The three-day course will cover the fundamentals of meat specifications and attendees will be offered an in-depth, first-hand look at the processes involved in converting carcasses to meat cuts commonly available in retail and foodservice establishments. The training also features detailed cutting demonstrations of all the major center of the plate protein items, including beef, veal, lamb and pork, as well as sessions highlighting poultry, processed meats and seafood. The American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Science Association, Chicago Midwest Meat Association, Canadian Meat Council, Southwest Meat Association and Southeastern Meat Association are co-hosting the course. COP is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff, and is co-sponsored by the Pork Checkoff, Lamb Checkoff and Merck Animal Health. For more information, click here.
AMS Publishes Proposal Amending Animal Handling Rules for Organic Meat and Poultry. The Agricultural Marketing Service published its previously announced proposed rule that, if finalized, would amend organic livestock and poultry production requirements. The proposed rule would add new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter, living conditions and health care practices. Public comments are due by June 13, 2016.
USDA to Withdraw and Reissue Proposed Rule on Live Animal Equivalency on Imported Veal and Update the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is withdrawing a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2016, regarding the Beef Promotion and Research Order established under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985.
This proposed rule would amend the Beef Promotion and Research Order to increase assessment levels for imported veal and veal products based on revised determinations of live animal equivalencies. The proposed rule would also update and expand the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) numbers and categories, which identify imported veal and veal products to conform with updates in the numbers and categories used by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The proposed rule is being withdrawn because of an error in the imported veal carcass weight, and because the calculation used to establish the assessment rate on importer veal and veal products was not included.
In the near future, AMS intends to publish another proposed rule with the correct carcass weight and an explanation on how the calculations for the new assessment rates were calculated.
For additional information, contact Mike Dinkel, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, Research and Promotion Division, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Room 2610-S, STOP 0249, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20249-0251; or by phone at (301) 532-7497.
Using Whole Genome Sequencing to Protect Public Health and Enhance Food Safety
A commitment to enhancing food safety and protecting public health brought representatives from the beef, pork and poultry industries together to discuss a new technology being used to detect bacteria in food. The North American Meat Institute and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, as contractors to the Beef Checkoff, North American Meat Institute Foundation, US Poultry and Egg Association and the Pork Checkoff co-sponsored this gathering. Speakers from the Centers for Disease Control, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food & Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health discussed their use of whole genome sequencing and the application within their respective organizations. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) is a laboratory procedure that determines the order of bases in the genome of an organism in one process. This analysis is more cost effective than most current methods and has been adopted by the public health and regulatory agencies.
Industry representatives had the opportunity to discuss the practical application of WGS as well as current data gaps and research needs. In addition, educational needs were identified with the goal of ensuring a clear understanding for all users of the limitations of the technology as well as how WGS results should be one of the tools used when investigating illness outbreaks.
More than 300 participants gained valuable insight and gathered technical information during 2 webinars held in late March and co-sponsored by the Beef Checkoff, the Pork Checkoff, the North American Meat Institute and the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education. These webinars focused on HACCP Validation and the speakers provided practical information on how to meet the expectations of FSIS for scientific support and in-plant validation, the two critical areas that are the focus of USDA compliance guidelines. Webinar speakers included: – Dr. Kerri Gehring, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University and President, CEO, International HACCP Alliance; Dr. Alex Brandt, V.P. Technical Services, Food Safety Net Services; Bob Savage, President HACCP Consulting Group. Information sharing and transparency across all beef production segments when addressing beef safety challenges enhances consumer trust and ensures cooperative efforts within the industry.
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