Texas, March 10, 2008 - More than 160 leaders, including cattle producers, feeders, processors as well as retailers and foodservice operators, convened at the fifth annual Beef Industry Safety Summit March 5-7 in Dallas, Texas, to explore solutions to safety challenges as well as review and update best practices based on the latest science.
University scientists presented research results on pre-harvest and processing interventions as well as pathogen data which will be used to enhance beef safety systems. Experts on emerging issues including multi drug-resistant pathogens and non-O157 E. coli, shared information that will allow the industry to proactively address these challenges. Attendees also had an opportunity to hear from a live consumer panel highlighting perceptions and beliefs about food safety.
The Summit is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff and hosted by the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo), which is a coalition of beef producers, university and government scientists, trade association representatives and industry leaders. BIFSCo has helped implement and provide education on technological innovations that continue to advance the safety of beef.
"The focus of these meetings has always been to review current science and find ways to enhance beef safety from farm to fork," says James O. Reagan, Ph.D., BIFSCo chairman and National Cattlemen's Beef Association vice president of research and knowledge management. "This summit is just one example of how the industry comes together to provide safe, wholesome and high-quality beef to families around the world."
In addition to addressing safety interventions and research, beef industry leaders pledged their ongoing dedication to animal welfare, recognizing long-standing efforts such as the Beef Quality Assurance program, which began in 1986 and is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff.
Attendees at the Safety Summit reaffirmed their commitment to animal welfare by signing a pledge that states: "As leaders in the beef industry representing each link in the beef production chain, we are committed to animal welfare. We reaffirm our dedication to quality animal care, using and improving sound handling and management practices that have been in place for years. We will continue to work in cooperation with our partners to make sure every animal is treated humanely so that consumers can continue to have confidence in the people who produce beef."
Industry leaders leave the Summit charged with a renewed commitment to working together to advance beef safety and animal welfare standards. "As a beef producer, I'm proud to say that the meeting was successful in bringing people from all parts of the beef chain together to work toward the goal of providing safe beef for consumers," says Mark Riechers, farmer/feeder from Darlington, Wisc., Cattlemen's Beef Board member and vice chair of the Beef Safety Committee. "The Safety Summit is an example of the many checkoff-funded activities aimed at helping us accomplish this goal. Producers and all forms of processors can be proud of the quality of the research and other information presented at this meeting. We are all in the business of producing safe beef and all benefit from everyone playing their part in the process."
For more information about the beef checkoff, visit www.beefboard.org. The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.