food safety

Let’s acknowledge Farmers

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July 23  |  Editorial, Farm, Latest News, Livestock, Newsletters, Opinion  |   Webmaster

Take a Moment to Appreciate Farmers and Ranchers:

We all take the supply and safety of our food for granted, without really thinking of how it got to our grocers.

Please take a moment to view these videos to gain a true appreciation for all those dedicated, hard-working folks who take their responsibilities seriously to keep us fed, well-nourished, and healthy.

YouTube

http://youtu.be/121obbAdQtM      

http://youtu.be/Kg_T3cZm5Ms    

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=uqYTMjintSA     

http://youtu.be/R4rzCJehqn4

 

And here are some interviews and insights from local ranchers and farmers:

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/07/16/what-every-farmer-wants-to-hear-go-usa/?hpt=ea_r2

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/07/03/no-bull-start-a-conversation-with-a-farmer/

 

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Antibiotics in Meat

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July 18  |  antibiotics, Beef, Editorial, Farm, food safety, Latest News, Opinion, Reports, Tests  |   Webmaster

The resistance to over-use of antibiotics is gaining steam throughout North America after the recent release of a detailed study by Consumers Report.  Apparently 82% of those surveyed said that they would buy antibiotic-free meat and poultry if it were available. This sounds quite convincing and seems to endorse the position of the Consumers Union and its supporters:  (FixFood, Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc.)

However, closer inspection reveals that it was 82% of the 24% of respondents who said that the stores where they shopped did not offer antibiotic-free meat/poultry.  That in fact amounts to less than 20% of the total people surveyed.

Most large cattle ranchers and hog and chicken farmers put antibiotics in  either feed or water to help their livestock process food more efficiently and  to bulk up faster.  Veterinarians and cattle experts argue that using small doses of antibiotics  as a preventive measure cuts the risk of an animal getting sick by 25 percent to  50 percent.

But many scientists and medical doctors believe giving antibiotics to animals  when they are not sick contributes to more drug-resistant infections, known as “superbugs” in humans.  The most recent data used by the “no antibiotics” camp is a 2002 report released by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.  It states that the “vast majority” of the 99,000 people who died from hospital-acquired infections, were caused by antibiotic-resistant infections.

Undoubtedly, this debate will rage on for some time.  It may even become a political hot button approaching the November primaries.  For more information on this topic, we have listed some links below. 

http://pressroom.consumerreports.org/pressroom/2012/06/consumer-reports-poll-majority-of-americans-want-meat-raised-without-antibiotics-sold-at-local-supermarkets.html

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/06/antibiotics-are-widely-used-by-u-s-meat-industry/index.htm

http://notinmyfood.org/press_release/consumers-union-launches-marketplace-campaign-for-meat-raised-without-antibiotics

http://www.meatwithoutdrugs.org/#the-issue

Also, for those who prefer to examine their options, we have included a real-time map of farms, markets, eateries and retailers who serve meat raised without excessive use of antibiotics.

http://www.realtimefarms.com/fixantibiotics

http://blog.realtimefarms.com/2012/06/21/real-time-farms-powers-the-fixantibiotics-food-finder/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog

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Editor’s Note:

Oxy Blast customers report drastic reduction in the need to use  anitbiotics and report improved health and weight gains in all species.

 

 

 

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USDA Budget Cuts

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July 12  |  crops, Farm, food safety, Latest News, Reports, Tests  |   Webmaster

USDA Budget Cut Could Slash 80 Percent of Produce Testing

The nation’s largest pathogen testing program may shut down this month

Budget cuts will kill safety program that caught Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria outbreaks

Food safety advocates are frantically trying to save a little-known produce inspection program that accounts for 80 percent of all government testing of produce.   According to Food Safety News, MDP tests an average of four times as many produce samples each year as the FDA, and eliminating it would cut government testing by 80 percent.

From 2009 to 2012, MDP (USDA’s Microbiological Data Program) found Salmonella 100 times, E. coli O157:H7 twice, and Listeria monocytogenes 8 times.  Over the same time period, the program sparked 23 Salmonella recalls, 2 E. coli O157:H7 recalls, and 5 Listeria recalls.

This political hot potato pits food safety advocates against growers and the United Fresh Produce Association and the Obama administration and Congress may face a backlash.

Following are links to this story:

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/budget-cuts-kill-safety-program-caught-salmonella-outbreaks/story?id=16755177

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/07/usda-budget-cut-could-slash-80-percent-of-produce-testing/

 

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Alternative to Antibiotics

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June 30  |  antibiotics, Case Studies, Dairy, Farm, food safety, Livestock, News, Nutrition  |   Webmaster

In an ongoing effort to reduce the dependence and amount of antibiotics used in farming, USDA scientists at College Station, TX have discovered that providing sodium chlorate in the drinking water or feed of livestock will reduce the intestinal concentrations of bacteria harmful to humans.

You can read a summary of the report here:  http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/06/usda-makes-progress-on-alternatives-to-antibiotics/

 

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Antibiotic Farm Use

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June 30  |  antibiotics, Case Studies, Editorial, Farm, food safety, Immune System, Livestock, News, Nutrition, safe drinking water  |   Webmaster

The use and/or overuse of antibiotics on farms continues to generate controversy.  While opposite sides continue to argue their respective positions, we feel that it’s important to maintain a level-headed position and research and examine all of the facts. 

Without a doubt, antibiotics have improved the quality of life for all of us, including our livestock and food sources.   Can you imagine a world without anitbiotics?  Scary indeed!

We strongly agree with the agricultural community that a responsible antibiotic regimen is essential to maintaining a safe, healthy and efficient operation.  However, it’s also common knowledge that antibiotic use has surged during the past decade, which has many experts worried that we are creating a dangerous level of resistance to bacteria and viruses.

The prestigious journal Nature this week called for reining in the use of antibiotics in agriculture, adding to the growing chorus of scientists and public health advocates seeking reforms.  The editorial noted that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock raising is a global issue, in part because pathogens do not respect international borders — “As long as any one country pumps its pigs and poultry full of drugs, everyone is at risk.”

Following are links to the report and comments.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/06/journal-nature-farmers-should-rein-in-antibiotic-use-worldwide/

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v486/n7404/full/486440a.html

While the debate rages on, and various special interest groups lobby all levels of government, please don’t blame the farmers! They are all working hard to ensure that we all have safe, healthy food to feed our families, and also incurring a lot of extra expense in doing so. 

We would like to remind you that one of the many benefits of using our Oxy Blast products is the reduced dependency on antibiotics.  Why?  Because they help antibiotics work more effectively and efficiently!  This has proven to be an economical option for many of our clients.

We invite you to watch our short movie presentation at www.oxyblast.org/movie, introducing our products and services.

 

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Mad Cow (BSE)

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April 30  |  Beef, Editorial, Farm, food safety, Latest News, Livestock, Opinion  |   Webmaster

There has been a lot of media attention on the recent discovery in California of a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is a progressive neurological  and eventually fatal disease of cattle; its symptoms are similar to a disease of sheep, called scrapie. BSE has been called “mad cow disease.”  Scientists say the disease is spread through feed that contains brain or spinal cord tissue from infected animals. People can get it from eating products containing such tissues, including head cheese. However, since 1997, feed made from mammals has been banned from cattle rations, and high-risk materials such as brains have been kept from the human food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This recent case is not typical. It was found in an older animal and  it was never destined to be part of the human food chain. The California cow tested positive for so-called atypical BSE, which the Agriculture Department said isn’t generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed. Such cases can occur spontaneously in older animals, according to the department.  There have been many criticisms about how the FDA handled the communication of this particular discovery, but the main point here is that the system worked.

Once again, we remind our readers to do their own research and examine all sides of the issue before forming their own opinion, instead of accepting the media hype and adding to the rumor mill, which tends to blow everything out of proportion.  Let’s not propagate more uninformed doomsday panic like we had with LFTB (aka “pink slime”).

For those interested, following are links to news stories, editorials, and opinions from various sides of the issue, to help you develop an informed and intelligent perspective.       - ed.


http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-26

http://www.whsv.com/home/headlines

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/04/

http://www.cbsnews.com/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/24/

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FDA guidelines for antimicrobial use

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April 21  |  antibiotics, Beef, Dairy, Farm, food safety, Immune System, Latest News, Nutrition  |   Webmaster

FDA Publishes Guidances to Limit Use of Antimicrobials (antibiotics) in Livestock Production

Apr. 13, 2012 12:48pm

    • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a series of three documents in the Federal Register today as part of an effort to alter the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. 

More About:

 

National Pork Board

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a series of three documents in the Federal Register today as part of an effort to alter the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals.

In a statement prior to today’s publication, FDA indicated that the issuance of three new documents will help veterinarians, farmers and animal producers use medically important antibiotics judiciously in food-producing animals by targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems. Under a new voluntary initiative, certain antibiotics would not be used for so-called “production” purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency in an animal. These antibiotics would still be available to prevent, control or treat illnesses in food-producing animals under the supervision of a veterinarian. There will be a three-year “phase in” period before these changes will become effective, but the exact dates of the phase-in period currently remain unspecified.

“It’s critical that we take action to protect public health,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective. We are also reaching out to animal producers who operate on a smaller scale or in remote locations to help ensure the drugs they need to protect the health of their animals are still available.”

The three documents published in today’s Federal Register include:

·         A final guidance for the industry, Guidance 209, “The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals,” that recommends phasing out the agricultural production use of medically important drugs and phasing in  veterinary oversight of therapeutic uses of these drugs.

·         A draft guidance, Draft Guidance 213, open for public comment, which will assist drug companies in voluntarily removing production uses of antibiotics from their FDA-approved product labels; adding, where appropriate, scientifically-supported disease prevention, control and treatment uses; and changing the marketing status to include veterinary oversight.

·         A draft proposed Veterinary Feed Directive regulation, open for public comment, that outlines ways that veterinarians can authorize the use of certain animal drugs in feed, which is important to make the needed veterinary oversight feasible and efficient.

FDA’s guidance documents do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidance documents are meant to describe the FDA’s current thinking on a topic. As the American Association of Swine Veterinarians pointed out in a news release, it should be noted that FDA intends to work with drug manufacturers to remove label indications for growth promotion and feed efficiency from products considered important for human health. Once these products are no longer labeled for production uses, it will be illegal for veterinarians or producers to utilize medicated feeds for these purposes.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is concerned that lost and restricted access to antimicrobial products expected to result from these steps likely will disproportionately affect small producers, have a negative effect on animal health, and increase the cost of producing food while not improving public health.  NPPC makes the point that this action is a move to address an increase in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans, which opponents of modern animal agriculture blame on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production. 

However, numerous peer-reviewed risk assessments, including at least one by FDA, show a “negligible” risk to human health of antibiotics in food-animal production, according to NPPC.

Tom Talbot, a California beef producer, veterinarian and current chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee, issued a statement that raises key points on this issue. “Antimicrobial resistance is a multifaceted, extremely complex issue that cannot be adequately addressed solely by focusing on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Prudent and responsible evaluation of this issue must consider animal, human and industrial use of antibiotics. While we appreciate the agency working with industry on the implementation of Guidance 209, we remain committed that a strong science foundation is critical before moving forward with this guidance,” he states.

John Clifford, DVM, USDA Chief Veterinary Medical Officer, says, “USDA worked with FDA to ensure that the voices of livestock producers across the country were taken into account, and we will continue to collaborate with the FDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association and livestock groups to ensure that the appropriate services are available to help make this transition.”

FDA is currently accepting comments on Draft Guidance 213 and on the Veterinary Feed Directive document. Submit comments on these documents by the date provided in the Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the Draft Guidance (July 12, 2012). Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit electronic comments on the draft guidance to http://www.regulations.gov. Identify all comments with the docket number listed in the notice of availability that publishes in the Federal Register.

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LFTB

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April 21  |  Beef, Editorial, food safety, Latest News, Nutrition, Opinion, Research  |   Webmaster

Lean Finely Textured Beef vs. Pink Slime

 

So, what’s all the fuss about “Pink Slime”?  Lean Finely Textured Beef has been used as an additive to ground beef for years, without so much as a whimper or whisper from the politicians, watchdogs, or general public.   Unfortunately, an opinionated poorly-researched blog went viral and the media got hold of it, combined with even more misinformation, escalated this non-story into a major headline that lasted for days.  In the old days, exaggerated, persistent gossip and innuendo (“nudge, nudge, wink, wink”) could eventually lead a person or company to ruin and disrepute.  Nowadays, we have the power of the internet and social media to spread gossip and opinionated misinformation as if they were on super steroids. 

Here is a well-balanced article from a beef industry advocate.  We hope that you enjoy this and the additional links at the bottom of the page.  Your comments are always welcome and we encourage all of you to do your own research and investigation before jumping on the “Doomsday Bandwagon”.   - ed.

 

Make Room For A Bigger, Badder Foe

by Troy Marshall in My View From The Country

Apr. 20, 2012 9:25am

Anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups are quickly becoming the largest threat to animal production.

Boxed-beef prices rallied substantially early this week, bringing some stability back to the beef markets as the peak grilling season gets underway. Analysts say the rally was confirmation that the media-fueled frenzy over lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is waning.  

I haven’t seen any official estimates of what this PR disaster cost the industry, but we do know that hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars were sucked out of the system in the last few weeks. This wasn’t an accident, either; it was a well conceived and orchestrated campaign that utilized an unwitting media to whip the firestorm.   In fact, the campaign’s success probably greatly exceeded the wildest expectations of a faction that’s quickly becoming one of the most threatening alliances against agriculture. This faction encompasses a passel of anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups masterful at creating buzzwords and narratives that obscure their true agenda while rallying well-intentioned consumers and voters to their side.  

The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) used to be the master of this strategy; that is, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars from people who actually believe their contributions support animal shelters and help abused animals. Instead, they fund a war chest to battle livestock production.   The animal welfare movement also is masterful at using groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to paint an extreme view. That way, a more mainstream group like HSUS can appear more center-based when it pushes for radical policy.  

The anti-market, anti-modern folks do it a little differently, however. They believe in government control of the marketplace, and replacing the market and industry institutions they view as supportive of the industry. To do this, they understand they must affect policy, which entails shaping public opinion. They do this by using the media and populist rhetoric to create “moral” perceptions in order to shape policy that is continually evolving in their direction.   Stepping back, one has to admire their success. They’ve used words like “pink slime” and “factory farming” masterfully.  

• The fact is that most people aren’t opposed to a product like LFTB, which reduces costs to consumers, raises prices for producers, and improves the safety and healthfulness of beef; but everyone can hate the concept of “pink slime.”  

• In addition, nearly everyone can line up to oppose factory farming and multinational large-scale food production entities. Most of these same people, however, don’t understand that these groups define a “factory farm” as any entity large enough to be economically viable, or that uses modern technology to produce a higher-quality product more efficiently.  

These groups champion the little guy, and even get some producers to stand with them. They also castigate the government and government involvement on issues they believe will increase the competitiveness of the industry while, at the same time, pleading for government intervention, rather than letting the marketplace function.   It’s the same concept that the Occupy Wall Street movement employs, which is to create an enemy that is perceived to be a dramatic minority or that is part of the “establishment.”  

In fact, these anti-meat groups are successful enough that their message is almost becoming mainstream in the minds of consumers in regard to animal production. Packers are held up to be inherently evil; confined animal feeding units are immoral; and large-scale production is wrong, as is the implementation of modern technologies in food production.   These groups will ally themselves with any group that opposes animal production; yet, they’re not perceived as affiliated with those groups, which increases their credibility. They’ve even been successful in attracting to their cause some producers who don’t understand that they are working for their own demise.

It’s for these reasons that these anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups are quickly becoming the largest threat to animal production.

As a fulltime rancher, Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how various consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

Click here for the original article  http://beefmagazine.com/blog/make-room-bigger-badder-foe

Following are links from various sources covering differing viewpoints …

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/28/chris-selley-pink-slime-is-benign/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/pink-slime-outrage-goes-viral

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Pink+Slime+controversy

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/

http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/Science-must-guide-ag-policy

 

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