In a recent post we discussed the ruling currently under construction at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) which would allow certain state-inspected slaughter plants to perform federal inspections on meat and poultry. The comment period has been extended, and we invite anyone who has an interest in this to add your two cents to the discussion (read full post for instructions). This ruling could have tremendous implications for livestock farmers using independent, state-inspected plants who are now limited to selling product within state lines, and could dramatically expand their marketing capabilities. Cooperative inspection has the potential not only to benefit independent farmers and slaughter plants, but could have positive animal welfare implications through reduced transport time.
On November 5, a “news article” appeared word-for-word across countless livestock-related websites – including Drovers, Dairy Herd, Cattle Network, AgWired, DairyLine, Beef Magazine, and so on. No journalist is cited as the author on any of the sites where it is published, an indication that the piece was not a ”news article” at all but a press release issued by an unidentified source.
Entitled “Environmentally Friendly Food Myths Debunked,” the news article provided coverage of a presentation given by Dr. Jude Capper at the 71st Cornell Nutrition Conference in October 2009. Her presentation reported findings from a recent paper co-authored with R.A. Cady and D.E. Bauman, entitled, “Demystifying the Environmental Sustainability of Food Production."
Dr. Mohan Raj, a world-renowned expert in humane slaughter and farm animal welfare, has been tapped to lead Animal Welfare Approved (AWA)’s newly formed Scientific and Technical Advisory Board, AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther announced today.
Raj is currently the Reader in farm animal welfare at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He is one of the foremost authorities in the field of humane stunning and slaughter and the developer of a novel and humane slaughter system for poultry and pigs using inert gases. Raj has published over 40 original scientific papers and authored chapters in textbooks and reference books.
The Animal Welfare Approved program has experienced tremendous growth over the past year, Gunther notes. The creation of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Board is the next step in aiding the program in retaining its reputation as being driven by practical science while still grounding the standards in the everyday reality of farm life. “Dr. Raj will be instrumental in ensuring AWA standards respect and reflect the needs of the animals and farmers while not compromising good care,” Gunther says. “We are honored and fortunate to have Dr. Raj at the helm of our new Board. His experience and knowledge is second to none in the field.”
Not that we like to gloat, but….
Grassfed beef from two Animal Welfare Approved farmers has gone head-to-head with conventional beef in separate taste tests. The results are in and, well, to be modest, SMACKDOWN!
This past summer, AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan issued a challenge to Mark and Dr. Patricia Whisnant of American Grass Fed Beef—bring him some grassfed beef that he deemed worthy of using in his famous burger and he would make the switch from the beef his customers had come to love. And so, on a muggy New York City afternoon, a small crowd gathered to see the gloves come off as 100% grassfed took on heavyweight conventional grain-fed. In a stunning upset, Chef Bill declared the upstart 100% grassfed beef the winner, bestowing the crown of onion rings and French fries that top the famous Telepan burger on the Whisnant’s American Grass Fed Beef.
A recent newspaper article brought home once again the extraordinary reality of industrialized food production – and lengths that some in the US food and farming industry will go to in the pursuit of "efficiency."
This time, it was an article in the LA Times about the currently legal practice of feeding US cattle so-called "poultry litter." An unlikely sounding cattle feed, poultry litter is actually made up of industrial chicken feces, spilled chicken feed, feathers and other poultry waste collected from the floors of factory farms across the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – which is responsible for protecting public health and is at the center of this current situation for continuing to permit poultry litter as a feedstuff – estimates that US farmers currently feed between one and two million tons of poultry litter to their cattle each year.