4/14/2010

Regulations that will drive up the price of meat

Well following scares about bird and swine flu now we have another one.

And the reason for these new regulations is what?

Across the U.S. small meat processing plant owners are hoping for an 11th hour development that will prevent the U.S. Department of agriculture from implementing a new set of regulations that will force them out of business.

The new regulations, proposed by the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service will require an extensive battery of testing for meat processing products, intended for commercial retail, to validate each plant's effectiveness in assuring food safety.

On the surface, it sounds like a good thing. But for plant owners like Paul Bubeck, of Lewright Meats in Eagle Grove, and thousands more like him, the new layer of testing will be cost prohibitive.

Bubeck and wife, Barbara, took over operation of Lewright Meats in 1981. Barbara Bubeck's family started the plant in 1936. In 2009, Ethan Bubeck, the couple's son and his wife, Shanae, joined the company.

Bubeck said all meat processors, regardless of size, already follow an exacting array of procedures and monitoring protocols to assure food safety, and cannot understand the need for the expanded tests.

According to Dr. Gary Johnson, bureau chief for the state's meat and inspection department, a division of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the new regulations are designed to validate if the existing protocols are working.

The problem is that a large amount of meat products must be shipped to inspection labs for a battery of expensive tests for which the plants themselves must cover the cost.

In Bubeck's case, the initial tally for the extensive tests will cost $455,592. That would be followed by an annual ongoing series of tests tallying $140,182. . . .


Assume that about 45 million tons of meat are consumed in the US each year (US tons, not metric tons, about 11 million tons every three months). Apparently over the three months from November 2009 to January 2010 there were 2.8 million pound recalled (1,400 tons). That is about 0.01 percent.

What I would like to find out is the number of deaths from just E. coli and Salmonella in meat. Anyone know that number and have a reference? A report does mention the number of people dying from all sorts of food.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Angela said...

My husband is in the perishables business. I'll ask him to dig up some industry numbers for you. Might be the weekend before he has time though.

4/15/2010 1:15 AM  
Blogger John A said...

It involves other stuff as well.

From a post I read Wednesday, it all seems to have been kicked off [this time] when Mexico sent back US meat which was then sold here. Because of copper content being over the limit set in Mexico. The Dept. of Agriculture does not test for copper.

That set off interagency squabbling about whether there was a need for Agriculture to test for copper content, should the FDA set a health limit, should the EPA set a limit, or OSHA, on and on. All about an amount of copper I suspect is exceeded by grapes, but grapes are not "meat" products...

4/15/2010 1:55 PM  

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