Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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AUGUST 19, 2008 -- Number 22, Volume 8

CLARIFICATION: In the last issue it was noted that efforts for an anti-confinement ballot initiative have failed in Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire and Vermont, per the July issue of Egg Industry (see: FAW Issue 21, item #3). In response, Paul Shapiro with the Humane Society of the U.S. wrote: "States such as Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Vermont don't even allow statewide ballot initiatives. In Arizona, the only factory-farming related ballot measure the state has seen was overwhelmingly approved by voters: 62-38. It's true that several states have considered bills in their legislatures regarding the extreme confinement of farmed animals, but there have only been two such ballot initiatives in recent years (Florida in 2002 and Arizona in 2006) and they both were approved by voters."

1. MORE BEEF RECALLED; USDA BOWS TO INDUSTRY

Following Nebraska Beef Limited (NBL)’s recall of 5.3 million pounds of “trimmings” (meat intended for use as ground beef, see: http://tinyurl.com/59rzxr ) last month, the company is now recalling some 1.36 million pounds of “intact” beef. As with the previous recall, this one came in two stages: 160,000 more pounds were added six days after an initial August 8th recall of 1.2 million pounds. The two recalls were for contamination by two different strains of potentially lethal E. coli, warranting the highest level of the three classes of recall. Meat in the August recall is believed to be linked to more than 30 illnesses in a dozen states, D.C., and Canada. NBL has a history of run-ins with USDA inspectors. In 2003, the USDA attempted to shut the company down for multiple inspection violations. NBL now faces several lawsuits regarding the recalled meat.

“It can be legal to sell steaks and roasts that carry a potentially deadly strain of E. coli. But it is not legal to sell that meat if it is going to be used to make ground beef,” explains the Washington Post, “Regulators do not monitor meat sold for steaks and roasts as closely as meat sold for ground beef because those primal cuts are less likely to make people sick. For example, if a steak is contaminated, the bacteria are most likely on the outside and killed during cooking. By contrast, with ground beef, the pathogen gets mixed in and can survive if the interior isn't heated to 160 degrees.” The recent NBL recall included intact meat, some of which was used to make ground beef.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expressed interest in expanding the policy on E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef to include intact cuts but publicly retreated after encountering opposition from the beef industry. ‘We understand that in order to have the greatest impact, decisions must not only be science based, but also have the support of our stakeholders and constituents," said Richard Raymond, USDA undersecretary for food safety. A USDA meeting to be held later this year will discuss using radiation as another way to make meat safer.

In what BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly (BCCW) called “another black eye for the industry,” the USDA announced on August 6th a recall of 153,630 lbs. of beef produced by S&S Foods LLC due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The recall occurred after 73 attendees of a Virginia Boy Scout camp fell ill (and see: http://tinyurl.com/63873r ). The industry publication points to other recent recalls, including the more than 20 in 2007 involving in excess of 30 million pounds of beef (see: http://tinyurl.com/563qae and http://tinyurl.com/5qd6u6 ). It also notes: “[t]he Food Marketing Institute's “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2008” survey found that in 2007, 66% of shoppers – down from 82% the year before – were confident that the food they buy at the grocery store is safe.” BCCW opines that E. coli O157:H7 “really is the U.S. beef industry’s Achilles heel; a problem with our most popular product that’s seriously tarnishing the U.S. reputation”: http://tinyurl.com/6h8mdk See also: SECRET INGREDIENTS: http://tinyurl.com/69evvr

The Press-Enterprise has published a retrospective of the Hallmark recall (see: http://tinyurl.com/6xyll5 and http://tinyurl.com/6ojbz8 ), which is estimated to cost in excess of $67 million. See: http://tinyurl.com/693otf


NEBRASKA BEEF LTD. HAS RECALLED NEARLY 6.7 MILLION POUNDS OF BEEF THIS SUMMER
Associated Press, August 14, 2008
http://www.nebraska.tv/Global/story.asp?S=8840856&nav=menu605_2

NEBRASKA FIRM EXPANDS BEEF RECALL, USDA SAYS
Reuters, Tenzin Pema with Christopher Johnson, August 15, 2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSBNG1525620080815

TWO E. COLI STRAINS SET OFF RECALLS
Feedstuffs, Sally Schuff, August 18, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/63ap64

COMPANY RECALLS BEEF LINKED TO VA. E. COLI CASES
Associated Press, August 7, 2008
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iWw6ywgMj93pTnEumiSegfbWjHwgD92DN5KG3

BEEF RECALLED BY WHOLE FOODS FELL INTO REGULATORY GRAY AREA
The Washington Post, Annys Shin, August 12, 2008
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/11/AR2008081102640.html

AND THE E. COLI O157:H7 BEAT JUST GOES ON
BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, Joe Roybal, August 8, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6no386

 

2. COCKFIGHTING NOW ILLEGAL IN ALL U.S. STATES

"I'm going to just go underground," said Carter Kinchen of the Louisiana ban on cockfighting, "fight [roosters] here and yonder. If they come to take them I'm going to die." While it has been illegal there since last year to gamble on cockfights, the total ban went into effect on August 15th (see: http://tinyurl.com/6lpw5t ). The only U.S. land where cockfighting now remains legal is in American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico. Both fans and opponents say cockfighting will continue illegally. "I can go up [to nearby southern states] on any given weekend and go to a rooster fight and it's wide open - like it's not against the law," said Louisianan cockfighting enthusiast Billy Duplechein. First-time offenders caught participating in a cockfight will face a maximum of a $1,000 fine and six-month prison term. State law enforcement authorities have pledged to strictly uphold the law and show zero tolerance toward violators. The Humane Society of the U.S. has set up a hotline and is promising up to $5,000 for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction. The organization is waiting until at least 2010 to seek tougher penalties. DYING DAYS OF COCKFIGHTING IN AMERICA photo gallery at: http://tinyurl.com/5bh9pj


DAWN IN LOUISIANA
The Washington Post, Carol Guzy, August 15, 2008
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/08/14/ST2008081403824.html

LA. FINALLY QUITS COCKFIGHTS, LAST STATE TO BAN IT
Associated Press, Doug Simpson, August 11, 2008
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008103995_aplastcockfight.html

GIVE COCKFIGHTING LAW A CHANCE, ADVOCATES SAY
The Times-Picayune, Ed Anderson, August 16, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/566h3h

 

3. FOR AND AGAINST PROP 2

The Poultry Science Association (PSA), the American Association of Avian Pathologists, and the American College of Poultry Veterinarians have joined Californians for Safe Food, the coalition (http://tinyurl.com/6hlvwb ) opposing Proposition 2, the California ballot initiative (see: http://tinyurl.com/6glf5n ). PSA's food safety committee said "there is justifiable scientific concern that food safety may be compromised" if the ballot initiative passes, and the measure "is seriously flawed from both a scientific and public policy perspective." The committee that developed United Egg Producers (UEP)’s animal care guidelines has released a statement about the importance of using science as the basis of such guidelines: http://tinyurl.com/69n48k (UEP has also unveiled a website which reportedly enables visitors to “Watch our hens through LIVE Web cams”: http://uepcertified.com ) The California Teamsters Public Affairs Council also voted to oppose Prop 2, arguing that it would eliminate jobs and give police powers to activists including the ability to arrest farm workers.

In his August 11th blog posting, HSUS’s Wayne Pacelle discussed his recent testimony before members of the California Senate and Assembly Agriculture Committees. He pointed out that, despite arguments by Prop 2 opponents for keeping hens caged (see: http://tinyurl.com/6djlah ), almost all of the battery-cage egg companies also maintain cage-free operations. He also noted that chickens used for meat are raised in cage-free housing. “I've heard every rationalization from people exploiting animals for fun or for profit…they'll all have their excuses and their defenses of the status quo. The factory farmers are no different, it's just that they make more money…They can hire better consultants and trot out more scientists beholden to the industry,” Pacelle wrote.

In his August 12th blog, HSUS’s Mike Markarian took agribusiness to task, noting egregious examples of labor violations by large egg companies. “A single factory farm owned by Gemperle Enterprises in Turlock, Calif., confines one million chickens. The owners brag that only four people have keys to the facility, and fewer than a half dozen people are even allowed inside. A half dozen people for a million birds. The paltry few jobs that remain expose workers to infectious diseases and concentrated chemicals. Factory farms generate toxic dust and gas plumes that cause respiratory irritation among workers,” Markarian wrote. See also CAFOS A DRAIN ON ECONOMY, a recent opinion piece by Sierra Club spokesperson Ken Midkiff: http://tinyurl.com/6e8rs3

Arguments for and against the initiative can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/57vslq and http://tinyurl.com/5tts3o


POULTRY SCIENTISTS, TEAMSTERS LINE UP OPPOSED TO PROP 2
Feedstuffs, Rod Smith, August 11, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5q5kug

UNCAGING THE TRUTH
A Humane Nation (blog), Wayne Pacelle, August 11, 2008
http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2008/08/prop-2.html

ALL HAT AND NO CATTLE
Animals & Politics (blog), Mike Markarian, August 12, 2008
http://hslf.typepad.com/political_animal/2008/08/californias-big.html

 

4. CHF SUES AEB & ED SCHAFER OVER AD CAMPAIGN

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s approval of a $3 million ad campaign in California by the American Egg Board (AEB) has been met with a lawsuit. Californians for Humane Farms (CHF, see item #3) filed suit against U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and AEB, a marketing entity created by Congress and funded by large egg companies. CHF objects to the timing of the ad campaign, which is to run until election day, claiming the intent is to prevent the enactment of Proposition 2 (see item #3). It argues that AEB, which is supervised by the USDA, is strictly prohibited from using its funds “for the purpose of influencing government policy or action." The lawsuit asserts that AEB voted in November to spend $3 million against Prop 2. Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act allegedly confirm AEB’s plans and show that it intends to have some of the money spent on billboards opposing the ballot initiative. The lawsuit seeks to a court order preventing the money from being spent that way.

According to Feedstuffs FoodLink (FF), an industry publication, the information about the vote, gleaned from Egg Industry, a trade publication (see Clarification note above), is faulty. The vote called for the money to be spent "for a consumer education campaign to educate the public about current production practices," with no reference to California or the initiative, FF states, asserting that public information is a legitimate function of AEB.

SUIT SAYS USDA ILLEGALLY FUNDED EGG BOARD
San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko, August 14, 2008
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/13/BA5R12AF8V.DTL

GROUP SUES AEB, USDA OVER PROP 2 SPENDING
Feedstuffs FoodLink, August 16, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/62ygn6

 

5. A LIGHTER TOUCH

“With each bite into the ham, I heard the shrieking of pigs in my head. When will the pigs stop screaming, Karen Dawn? When? When the world converts to vegetarianism, she writes in the book. This will happen eventually. She's not militant about this point. She's logical. She's levelheaded. She's funny. That's why her message is so . . . darn . . . persuasive, ” writes Dan Zak, who interviewed Dawn for the Washington Post. Dawn, the person behind DawnWatch, an e-news service that promotes positive activist contact with the media, has written Thanking the Monkey, “a glossy, nearly 400-page, eminently readable book that… celebrates the progress of the animal rights movement” with a celebrity photo or cartoon on every page: http://tinyurl.com/579yze.

Asked about a turkey she sponsored at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Dawn remarks: “…a visit to Poplar Spring makes you rethink things. It's interesting when you meet chickens: They are sentient beings and not particularly stupid at all. And you suddenly don't want to be contributing to the battery cage industry. It's easy to do these days and makes such a difference. People just swap out the cow's milk in their lives for soy milk.” Washington D.C.’s NBC affiliate station also accompanied Dawn on a tour of the sanctuary: http://tinyurl.com/6jje4o.

ANIMAL ADVOCATE ENVISIONS A VEGETARIAN WORLD
The Washington Post, Dan Zak, August 17, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5qvp6p

 





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Compiled and edited by Mary Finelli, Farmed Animal Watch is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.