The Checkoff Funded Veal program is partnering again this year with prominent food blogger, the Daring Gourmet. The focus will be on developing a healthy veal recipe and how-to video for the New Year. Last year we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with Grilled Veal Steak Fajitas created by the Daring Gourmet.



Celebrate “Beef and Veal” day on January 10, 2018 at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show. The Pennsylvania State Beef Council will partner with The Checkoff Funded veal program to promote the proteins.



Updated VQA Program Resources Receive USDA Approval

The updated Veal Quality Assurance program and resources, which were reviewed and revised by a 14-member technical advisory group, have been approved by USDA.  The content will now be used to update the manual and the training PPT.  Veterinarians and other industry representatives who conduct VQA training will be invited to participate in a webinar after the first of the year. Updated content will be added to the Veal Farm website. All managers and owners of farms raising milk-fed veal are encouraged to be certified every two years. Currently, 90% of all milk-fed veal comes from VQA certified farms.  The goal is to increase that to 95% with the new program content coming in early 2018.



Beef Checkoff and NHDSC Team Up to Fuel Jacksonville Jaguars With Bologna. Recently, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone admitted to ESPN that his secret weapon is a bologna sandwich.  With an 8-4 record, the bologna is clearly working some magic for the Jaguars.  To help the team for the rest of the season, the Beef Checkoff and National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) joined together to send the team 100 logs of Boar’s Head beef bologna.  That’s enough for every player and coach to enjoy their own beef bologna log. The Beef Checkoff and NHDSC has shared the news with national and local media to let them know of the unique delivery.



DLA Issues Request for Information to Assess Impact of Reducing or Eliminating Certain Ingredients from Food Items.  The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) issued a request for information (RFI) to assess the impact to industry and the Department of Defense (DoD) if certain ingredients are reduced or eliminated from food items served in military dining facilities.  Specifically, the DLA is soliciting feedback regarding the impact of reducing or eliminating monosodium glutamate (MSG) as an added ingredient; trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats as added ingredients; hemp seeds; and meat protein extenders, including Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Isolated Soybean Protein (ISP), Soy Protein Concentrate (SPC) and Vegetable Protein Product (VPP).  DLA is particularly interested in examining the impact of removing or eliminating these ingredients on cost, product availability, manufacturing processes, production capabilities and nutrition, among other topics.

FSIS Releases Fiscal Year 2018 Annual PlanThe Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Annual Plan.  The Annual Plan, which is aligned with the Agency’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, details the ways FSIS intends to achieve its strategic goals over the next fiscal year.  FSIS, in FY 2018, will focus on strategies to prevent foodborne illness and protect public health; modernize inspection systems, policies and scientific approaches; and achieve operational excellence, according to the Annual Plan.

Continuing priorities include implementing the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS); using Public Health Risk Evaluations (PHREs) and pathogen reduction performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry to drive compliance and prevent contamination; and modernizing swine and egg products inspection systems.  FSIS also aims to increase its use of whole genome sequencing, further develop key informational tools and resources for inspectors and continue to work with public health partners to prevent Listeria monocytogenes in retail delicatessens.  Additional priorities outlined in the plan include recruiting and retaining employees in hard-to-fill mission-critical positions, engaging and empowering employees and implementing process enhancements in key areas.

FDA Releases Small Entity Compliance Guide for FSMA Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Final Rule.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a compliance guide to help small businesses understand and implement the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food final rule.  The guide presents information about the rule’s equipment, transportation, training and records requirements in question and answer format.  Small businesses are required to comply with the rule by April 6, 2018.  FDA is accepting public comments on the guide.

FMCSA Issues 90-Day ELD Waiver to Agriculture Haulers.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a 90-day waiver to exempt truck drivers hauling agriculture commodities from the December 18 deadline for Electronic Logging Device (ELD) implementation.  The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, enacted as part of the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, mandated that ELDs be installed in commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce, when operated by drivers who are required to keep records of duty status.  FMCSA also intends to publish guidance regarding the existing hours-of-service exemption for the agricultural industry and on the “personal conveyance provision,” which applies to drivers who are not subject to the hours-of-service regulations.  FMCSA recently exempted from the hours-of-service regulations and from any distance-logging requirements truckers hauling livestock within a 150 air-mile radius of the location at which animals were loaded.  Guidance will soon be published to clarify this exemption.

WOTUS Rule Effective Date Delayed.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) proposed delaying by two years the effective date of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which redefined and expanded the bodies of water subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The agencies contend the delay would provide regulatory certainty as EPA and the Corps consider revising the definition of WOTUS.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit last year blocked WOTUS implementation, which was set to become effective August 28, 2015.  EPA and the Corps are issuing this proposed delay because the Sixth Circuit’s nationwide stay of the rule may be affected by a pending Supreme Court case.

FSIS to Host Webinar on Listeria Controls at Retail.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will host a webinar December 14, 2017, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss effective strategies to control Listeria in the retail environment.  The webinar is designed for state, U.S. territories and tribal officials and food safety professionals who oversee foodservice retail operations with in-house delicatessens.  The webinar will review the agency’s guidance document titled, “FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens.”  The document provides specific recommendations regarding actions retailers can take in the deli area to control Lm contamination of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

FSIS also will present the latest findings from its ongoing multi-year nationwide pilot project to assess whether retailers are using the recommendations in its Retail Lm best practices guidance document.  As part of the pilot project, FSIS Compliance Investigators are completing questionnaires to determine whether the practices observed in retail delis are consistent with the guidance document in areas concerning product handling, cleaning and sanitizing, facility and equipment controls and employee practices.

FSIS Announces Update to Microbiology Laboratory GuidebookThe Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) revised Appendix 1.08, Media and Reagents, of the Microbiology Laboratory Guidebook (MLG) to include updated media heating instructions and media expiration and storage recommendations.  The revision also includes an updated list of media recipes, media and reagents used in Field Service Laboratories.  FSIS intends to begin using the updated Guidebook after December 29, 2017.



USDA Predicts Strong Agriculture Exports in FY2018.  Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 agricultural exports are projected to total $140.0 billion, according to the latest Quarterly Agriculture Export Forecast released last week by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  This represents a projected increase of $1.0 billion above the value forecast in August.  The report estimates the total agricultural trade surplus will grow from $21.3 billion to $23 billion in 2018, largely due to the expected success on sales to East Asia and North America, with China, Canada and Mexico as the top three markets, respectively.  Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are predicted to reach $29.7 billion in FY 2018 – an increase of $200 million – because of higher forecasts for beef, poultry and animal products such as lard and tallow.

FAS anticipates U.S. agricultural imports in FY 2018 will hit $117.0 billion, up $1.5 billion from the August forecast, due largely to expected increases in imports of animal products.

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