Scientific Publication Update for July 2013

Posted by Betsy Booren on .

The Scientific Publication Update for July 2013 is now available.  This update of scientific research is not meant to be an all-encompassing listing, but a means of disseminating information to you in one convenient monthly update.

AMI Foundation Final Report -Developing Validated Time-Temperature Thermal Processing Guidelines for Ready-To-Eat Deli Meat and Poultry Products

New research funded by the AMI Foundation looks at the effect of thermal processing interventions on the survival of Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) in roast beef, turkey deli-breast, and boneless hams. The research also sought to use the thermal destruction data to develop scientifically-validated, easy-to-use time-temperature tables as tools for assuring regulatory compliance and pathogen destruction for RTE products. Researchers found that thermal treatments are critical for controlling foodborne pathogens in RTE meat and poultry products.  Microbial resistance to thermal processes can be affected by several factors including the level and length of heat exposure and various intrinsic factors such as fat, salt or water concentration.  The research was done by Jeffrey J. Sindelar and Kathleen Glass at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Robert Hanson of HansonTech. Complementary research is ongoing and researchers provided a briefing as discussed below.

Food safety and quality articles of interest:

  • A new study recently published examined “Livestock-Associated Methicillin and Multidrug Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Is Present among Industrial, Not Antibiotic-Free Livestock Operation Workers in North Carolina.”
  • Researchers from the University of Wisconsin found “Thermal Tolerance Characteristics of Non-O157 Shiga Toxigenic Strains of Escherichia coli (STEC) in a Beef Broth Model System Are Similar to Those of O157:H7 STEC.”
  • FSIS and ARS researchers have examined the “Detection by Hyperspectral Imaging of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli Serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 on Rainbow Agar.”
  • Researcher studied the “Relationship between the Numbers of Escherichia coli and the Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Hides of Carcasses at a Large Beef Packing Plant.”
  • Texas Tech and ARS scientists have finalized the
    • “Development of a Transdermal Salmonella Challenge Model in Calves,” and
    • “Development of Challenge Models To Evaluate the Efficacy of a Vaccine To Reduce Carriage of Salmonella in Peripheral Lymph Nodes of Cattle.”
  • “Effect of Age of Cook-in-Bag Delicatessen Meats Formulated with Lactate-Diacetate on the Behavior of Listeria monocytogenes Contamination Introduced When Opening the Packages during Storage” was the focus of research recently published in the Journal of Food Protection.
  • Researcher have been focused on the “Nutrient database improvement project: The influence of U.S.D.A. Quality and Yield Grade on the separable components and proximate composition of raw and cooked retail cuts from the beef rib and plate.”

Health and wellness articles of interest:

  • Recently, researchers “did not find an increased risk of prostate cancer associated with higher plasma nitrate levels…Nitrate–nitrite–nitric oxide pathway has emerged as a new therapeutic pathway for chronic diseases. The results of this study certainly merit replications in other prospective studies.”

Scientific Publication Update for June 2013

Posted by Betsy Booren on .

The Scientific Publication Update for June 2013 is now available.  This update of scientific research is not meant to be an all-encompassing listing, but a means of disseminating information to you in one convenient monthly update.  Articles of interest:

  • Researchers analyzed data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) and found that meat consumption did not increase total mortality risk.
  • FDA published “Recalls of Foods due to Microbiological Contamination Classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Fiscal Years 2003 through 2011” in this month’s issue of the Journal of Food Protection.
  • USDA-FSIS-OPPD published “Modeling Uncertainty of Estimated Illnesses Attributed to Non-O157:H7 Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli and Its Impact on Illness Cost.”
  • USDA-ARS conducted a “Validation of a Predictive Model for Survival and Growth of Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 on Chicken Skin for Extrapolation to a Previous History of Frozen Storage.”
  • Nature published an editorial “The Big Fat Truth.”  The editorial discusses public health experts only reporting the results that align with their research agenda.
  • New study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology entitled “Enumeration of Salmonella and Campylobacter in Environmental Farm Samples and Processing Plant Carcass Rinses from Commercial Broiler Chicken Flocks” had been mention in recent trade press.

Scientific Publication Update for March 2013

Posted by Betsy Booren on .

The Scientific Publication Update for March 2013 is now available.  This update of scientific research is not meant to be an all-encompassing listing, but a means of disseminating information to you in one convenient monthly update.  Articles of interest:

  • The Food and Drug Administration has published an article outlining “FDA-iRISK-A Comparative Risk Assessment System for Evaluating and Ranking Food-Hazard Pairs: Case Studies on Microbial Hazards.”
  • The National Advisory Committee on Microbial Criteria for Foods published an “Expedited Response to the Questions Posed by the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service To Support Ground Beef Purchase for the Federal Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs.”
  • A study examining the “Fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Mechanically Tenderized Beef Prime Rib following Searing, Cooking, and Holding under Commercial Conditions” was published by researchers from USDA and the University of Nebraska.
  • A cohort study evaluating the “Contribution of meat to vitamin B12, iron and zinc intakes in five ethnic groups in the USA: implications for developing food-based dietary guidelines” was recently published.

Scientific Publication Update for February 2013

Posted by Betsy Booren on .

The AMI Foundation Scientific Publication Update for February 2013 is now available.  This update of scientific research is not meant to be an all-encompassing listing, but a means of disseminating information to you in one convenient monthly update.  Articles of interest:

  • AMI Foundation supported research at the University of Wisconsin examining the “Methicillin-resistant staphylococci: implications for our food supply?”
  • AMI Foundation supported research from Colorado State University that looked at the “Antilisterial Properties of Marinades during Refrigerated Storage and Microwave Oven Reheating against Post-Cooking Inoculated Chicken Breast Meat.”
  • AMI Foundation supported research from Michigan State University “Evaluating the Predictive Ability of a Path-Dependent Thermal Inactivation Model for Salmonella Subjected to Prior Sublethal Heating in Ground Turkey, Beef, and Pork” is now available.
  • Researchers from USDA-MARC developed a “Chromogenic Agar Medium for Detection and Isolation of Escherichia coli Serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 from Fresh Beef and Cattle Feces.”
  • Researchers from USDA-MARC determined the prevalence of pathogenic C. difficile in the U.S. beef production chain is low are reported in a recent study published in the Journal of Food Protection.
  • Also published in the Journal of Food Production, researchers tracked the cross contamination potential in a retail deli market.
  • A recent article in the journal of Meat Science examined the “Effects of high hydrostatic pressure and varying concentrations of sodium nitrite from traditional and vegetable-based sources on the growth of Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat (RTE) sliced ham.”
  • Researchers in New Zealand examined how high-protein diets contribute to body weight management and health.
  • Canadian researchers studied the effect of beef consumption and resistance training on muscle synthesis in aging males.

Scientific Research Publication Update

Posted by Betsy Booren on .

Every month, the AMI Foundation staff reviews the latest additions to the scientific literature in the areas of food science, meat science, food safety and health and wellness. AMIF staff compiles a list of the research articles that they believe will be of interest to the meat and poultry industry.  This listing is provided monthly to the regulatory and scientific experts among AMI members.  Starting now, the AMI Foundation will make this compilation of articles available to all allied stakeholders.  This list is by no means an all encompassing list, but a quick way for those interested in seeking food safety solutions and ensuring consumers can choose the meat and poultry product that best fits their lifestyle to keep up on the latest research.  Happy reading!

The January 2013 Scientific Research Publication Update is now available.  Articles of interest:

  • In the January issue of the Journal of Food Protection, researchers examined the “Disinfectant and Antibiotic Susceptibility Profiles of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Strains from Cattle Carcasses, Feces, and Hides and Ground Beef from the United States.”
  • Also in the January issue of the Journal of Food Protection, researchers studied the “Growth Potential of Clostridium perfringens from Spores in Acidified Beef, Pork, and Poultry Products during Chilling,” as well as
  • an ARS researcher looked at the cross-contamination of chicken and Salmonella during at home preparation.

The AMI Foundation has recently received the following research final reports:

The white paper summarizes all historical data on C. difficile infections in humans; evaluates epidemiological data on animals, non-animal sources, and foods that have the potential to cause human infections and factors that affect transmission of C. difficile; evaluates hospital acquired C. difficile infections; evaluates worldwide understanding of C. difficile infections and their sources; and identifies the data gaps and discusses how these gaps influence the understanding of C. difficile and proposes tasks needed to close the gaps.

AMI Foundation 2012 Efforts Lay More Groundwork for Continuing Food Safety and Nutrition Progress

Posted by Jim Hodges on .

As we anticipate the challenges facing the industry in the coming months and years, I am pleased to share a new Year in Review that details the significant accomplishments resulting from the industry’s investment in the American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF). Our efforts have helped improve the safety of meat and poultry products, positioned our products as part of a healthy diet and provided the scientific underpinnings for science-based regulatory policies.

AMIF research on control of non-O157:H7 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in beef products demonstrated that a food safety system in control for E. coli O157 is also a system in control for other STEC.  This new data provided the necessary scientific support for plants to validate their HACCP plans and avoid unnecessary testing expenses associated with USDA’s declaration of an additional six STEC as adulterants in non-intact beef products.

AMIF has worked closely with customers in the retail community to address Listeria control in service deli operations.  Research funded by both AMIF and the Food Marketing Institute Foundation has documented the potential for cross-contamination during storage, preparation and handling. Both organizations are working cooperatively to investigate, develop solutions and communicate our findings to our industries and regulatory agencies.

A milestone regarding the safety of nitrite to cure meat and poultry products occurred in 2012. A team of international experts commissioned by AMIF published an updated review of ingested nitrate and nitrite and cancer.  This peer-reviewed, scientific journal article documents the profound beneficial effects of nitric oxide on human homeostasis and that human exposure to nitrite and nitrate should now be considered a normal and necessary part of human physiology.

The AMIF team is especially gratified by the coordination among our research partners at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Board, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. As we look forward to next year, we have embarked on a research priority setting process to address Salmonella control in meat and poultry products.  Our probability of success is greatly enhanced through collaboration.

Please take a moment to read the Year In Review and visit the rest of the AMIF website to view our other activities. We greatly appreciate your support and look forward to another successful year in 2013.

Rethinking Nitrite Safety Concerns

Posted by admin on .

Guest post by Dr. Jeff Sindelar and Dr. Andrew Milkowski,  University of Wisconsin


Nitrate and Nitrite have been used for millennia as part of systems to preserve meat so that it could be safely stored for consumption to avoid waste and provide wholesome meat protein during times of need.  Mankind quickly discovered that cured meats were largely free of the danger of botulism poisoning when eating preserved meats.  As scientific knowledge developed, we became more sophisticated in how to use these ingredients and this classification of pink colored cured meat products enjoyed by people in all cultures around the world became established.

A Historical Perspective

In the 1950s and 1960s, as inquiry into causes of cancer expanded to a molecular level, nitrosamines were discovered as carcinogens and scientists realized that under some conditions of food preparation, namely high heat, they could be formed in small quantities in cured meats.  This led to a revaluation of the safety of nitrite, and it was almost banned as an ingredient in the late 1970s.

After an intense review of the risk, the issues were resolved in the early 1980s. Curing methods were changed to drastically reduce nitrate and nitrite usage as well as introduce use of ingredients such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to inhibit nitrosamine formation. Stringent US regulatory limits were also put into place, particularly for bacon which is fried at high temperatures.  Those regulations have remained intact for over 30 years and continue to serve society well in dealing with this low risk.

New Science Emerges

As our basic knowledge of nitrite and nitrite chemistry has increased, we can now be assured that nitrite is not universally bad, but rather an essential part of human physiology.  In the 1980s another nitrogen oxide, nitric oxide was discovered to be synthesized from the amino acid arginine in the human body during normal metabolism.  It controls or influences a host of essential body functions such as immune response, blood pressure, memory and wound healing.  Many of the physiological effects of nitric oxide are exerted through nitrite and nitrate.  Nitrite itself has been shown to be very important for controlling blood flow in the heart.  We also appreciate how the body recirculates nitrate via secretion in saliva and conversion to nitrite by normal bacterial found in the mouth.

Another thing we have learned to appreciate more fully is the role that nitrite has in protecting against food borne pathogenic bacteria.  The fact that nitrite provides us safety from botulism is well established.  It also is a key part of the food safety hurdles designed into processed meats to deal with risk from another pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, which we did not really appreciate 30 years ago.  Furthermore, the production of nitrite in the saliva has been shown to enhance the ability of stomach acids to kill bacteria that we inherently swallow.  In this sense, nitrite can be considered part of our innate immune system that protects against infection.

Thus we need to rethink the paradigm that nitrate and nitrite in cured meats should be always considered with suspicion.  Most human exposure to these two compounds comes from metabolism (by arginine) and physiology, consumption of vegetables that are commonly high in nitrate (lettuce, celery, spinach, beets) and the recirculation pathway in the saliva. Overall, nitrate and nitrite from cured meats realistically provide less than a 10 percent of our daily exposure and it makes little sense to consider this hazardous in light of the much larger amounts that are consumed from vegetables or naturally generated in our bodies.


Eating Meat is Ethical

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Editor’s Note: This essay by noted animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin, professor of animal welfare at Colorado State University, was submitted for consideration to the New York Times in response to its contest asking readers why it’s ethical to eat meat. Despite Dr. Grandin’s expertise on this issue, her essay was not amongst the six finalists selected by the Times’ judges, so she permitted us to share it online.  Dr. Grandin is the author of the AMI Foundation’s animal handling guidelines and audit program.

Eating Meat is Ethical

 By: Temple Grandin

Humans and animals evolved together.  Our brains are tuned into animals.  Research with epilepsy patients who had monitors implanted in their brains, showed that the amygdala responds more to animal pictures, compared to pictures of landmarks or people. The amygdala is an important emotion center in the brain.  Pictures of both cute and aversive animals got a big response.  Recordings from the hippocampus, which is involved with memory, had no differences.

Human beings have an intrinsic bond with animals, but our treatment of animals has ranged from respectful to horrendous. Scientific research indicates that animals have emotions and they feel pain and fear.  It is our duty to provide the animals that we raise for food with a decent life.  I often get asked, “How can you care about animals and be involved in designing systems in slaughter houses that are used to kill them?”  I answered this question in 1990, after I had just completed installation of a new piece of equipment I had designed for handling cattle at slaughter plants.  I was standing on a catwalk, as hundreds of cattle passed below to enter my system. In a moment of insight, I thought, none of the cattle going into my system would have existed unless people had bred and raised them.

Our relationship with the cattle should be symbiotic.  Symbiosis is a biological concept of a mutually beneficial relationship between two different species.  There are many examples of symbiosis or mutualism in nature. One example is ants tending aphids to obtain their sugary secretion and in return, they are protected from predators.  Unfortunately the relationship is not always symbiotic and in some cases, the ants exploit the aphids.  There are similar problems in poorly managed, large intensive agriculture systems. There are some production practices that must be changed. In the cattle industry, I know many people who are true stewards of both their animals and their land.  Their relationship with both the animals and the land is truly symbiotic. It is mutually beneficial to both the animals and the environment.  Killing animals for food is ethnical if the animals have what the Farm Animal Welfare Council in England calls a life worth living.

I have been attended grazing conferences and I have learned that when grazing is done right it can improve the rangeland and sequester carbon. Ruminant animals that eat grass are not the environmental wreckers that some people say they are. Rotational grazing can stimulate more plant growth and growing plants help remove carbon from the atmosphere.  Ruminant animals, such as cattle, bison, goats, and sheep, are the only way to grow food on rangelands that are not suitable for crops.  Ronald C. Follett with the USDA-ARS-NPA in Fort Collins, Colorado, states that grazing lands have the potential to sequester carbon.  According to researchers at National University in Panama, converting South American pastureland to soybean production will reduce carbon storage. Organic agriculture would be impossible and extremely difficult without animal manure for fertilizer.  Another issue that must be looked at in perspective is methane emissions.  It is likely that 80% of all total methane emissions come from coal burning power plants, rice paddies, and landfills.

I have a final reason why I think eating meat is ethnical.  My metabolism requires animal protein, and I get lightheaded and unable to concentrate if I go on a vegan diet.  There may be metabolic differences in the need for animal protein.  There are practices that must be changed to be true stewards of both the animals and the environment.

Listeria Control: A Compelling Success Story

Posted by Betsy Booren on .

Recently, I was asked by Meatingplace Magazine to submit an article on the industry’s efforts to control Listeria for a five-part series analyzing the most prevalent pathogen-food combinations in the United States. I welcomed the opportunity to share our industry’s success story regarding this pathogen.

After a deadly outbreak in the late 1990s, the ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry industry redoubled their efforts prevent Listeria contamination. Since 2000, the L. monocytogenes prevalence rate in RTE meat and poultry products has dropped 80 percent to less than one third of one percent. It is also noteworthy that there have been no recalls of RTE meat or poultry products triggered by a listeriosis outbreak since 2002.

The meat and poultry industry controls L. monocytogenes in fully cooked meat and poultry products by achieving a validated lethality step. This lethality step is combined with an aggressive environmental control and sanitation program that prevents L. monocytogenes growth in equipment and the environment within the cooked products area of the plant.

Building on the Success at AMI Expo

I encourage manufacturers of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products wishing to learn more about these controls to attend AMIF’s Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop to be held in conjunction with the AMI Expo. We will examine the issues surrounding control methods, and to provide experience in developing appropriate sanitation protocols and testing plans for RTE products. In addition to assuring optimal product safety and implementing best practices for RTE process, the workshop offers a key benefit: helping to assure compliance.

The workshop will be held Monday April 30 from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Tuesday, May 1 from 7:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Dallas.

As the industry addresses emerging food safety issues and considers regulatory paths, the model that should be followed is the one of collaboration between regulators, the RTE industry and other allied stakeholders. In controlling L. monocytogenes, the model’s effectiveness is proven.

Meat Recovery from Nose to Tail: A Sustainable Approach

Posted by Betsy Booren on .

The recent attention on lean finely textured beef (LFTB) has opened many consumers eyes to the way meat is removed from animals in meat plants.  Conversations with reporters and consumers have made us realize that many people today had assumed that all meat is removed from carcasses with a few cuts from a knife.  But the reality is, meat comes from muscle and muscle can be connected to bone and fat.  Depending on the location of the muscle, removing it can present varying degrees of challenge.  If huge amounts of hand trimming are required, it can become cost-prohibitive to remove meat because the labor will exceed the value of the finished product.  But simply discarding or rendering it is wasteful, reduces the value of the animal and drives up costs to consumers.

Rather than throwing that meat away, the sustainable approach is to try to recover it for use in food if this can be done safely and cost effectively.  This means fewer animals must be produced to satisfy meat demand and meat prices can be maintained at affordable levels.

In the meat industry, we are fortunate to have harnessed technology towards this goal.  Just as machines are used to remove peels from fruit or to milk cows, similar concepts are applied to meat processing.

Here are a few techniques used to recover meat:

  • Advanced Meat Recovery: This is a technique used when meat, typically pork or beef, needs to be removed from a bone. There are a number of types available, but most involve the placement of bones with meat attached  through a machine that uses pressure to remove meat. AMR machines are regulated and they may not crush, grind or pulverize bones during the process.  The meat that is recovered does have a softer texture and is typically used in further processed meat products like ground beef, pork sausage, meatballs and taco fillings.   Because AMR is simply a mechanical means of removing meat, the resulting product is classified by USDA as meat, plain and simple, and no distinguishing labels or statements are used.
  • Mechanical Separation: This technique is typically used with poultry and involves putting the carcass through a high pressure device to remove the meat.  Because the process can break bones, resulting product is tested for elevated calcium levels to make sure there is no bone present. Mechanically separated poultry (MSP) must be labeled. MSP is used primarily as an ingredient in fully cooked and ready-to-eat products, such as hot dogs, bologna and other luncheon meats.  It is not typically used in chicken nuggets or patties, and it is not sold raw or directly to consumers.  Mechanically separated meat was produced in years past, but in the last decade, AMR technology has replaced it.
  • Lean Finely Textured Beef: This is less of a process than a product that utilizes a unique process to remove the meat. Unlike AMR or Mechanical Separation, LFTB starts with trimming, small cuts of beef with fat attached that are not connected to a bone. To separate the meat from the fat, trimmings it is warmed to about 100 degrees, which is approximately body temperature.  The trimmings are placed in a device like a salad spinner or  centrifuge so the fat is liquefied and spun away and the lean meat remains.   Meat processors commonly use antimicrobials that destroy bacteria.  In the case of LFTB, food grade ammonium hydroxide or citric acid are used to destroy bacteria. LFTB has not historically been labeled because USDA classified LFTB as beef.  However, USDA recently announced that it would approve labels (USDA actually approves ALL labels before they are applied) that declare LFTB when it is used.

These processes are regulated and approved by the USDA.  In fact, USDA inspectors are present in plants every day to monitor meat and poultry processing. These technologies are invaluable in preventing waste. Because meat recovered by machine can create a softer texture than a whole muscle cut like a rib eye steak, the end product is not sold on its own and instead added at minimal levels to ground or processed meat and poultry products. This allows meat and poultry processors to produce the variety of meat products that consumers demand. Beyond being sustainable, all of these processes have numerous other benefits from efficiency to worker safety and cost. Consumers should feel confident that all of them not only produce high quality meat, but also safe and affordable meat that they can feed their families.