The Beef Brief
Issues & Trends in the Cattle Industry
National Cattlemen's Association
Is The One Food Group Eaten in Appropriate Amounts
Americans eat too much of some foods and too little of others.
The one food group eaten in recommended amounts is .
A study by MRCA Information Services , an independent research
organization, shows that on average Americans eat 2.2 servings
per day from the Group _ which is within the recommended 2-3
servings per day. (Foods in the Group include ,
poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts.)
The MRCA study covered actual food consumption as well as
consumer attitudes toward foods. The recent survey report is
called "Eating in America Today/Second Edition" (EAT II). The
research was commissioned by the Board.
EAT II showed that persons in all segments of the population
overconsume Fats, Oils and Sweets, and they underconsume foods
from the Vegetable, Fruit, Bread and Milk groups. Government and
other health authorities recommend that we eat fats and sweets
only "sparingly," but actual consumption is excessive. The EAT
report notes that Fats, Oils and Sweets, eaten alone or added to
enhance the flavor of other foods, add calories without adding
While is the only food group eaten in appropriate amounts,
many people remain confused about role in the diet. Some
people believe that substituting other foods for will reduce
their fat and cholesterol intake, but, the EAT study reveals,
there are minimal nutrition differences in diets between self-
identified -eaters and -avoiders or vegetarians.
The report also "documents the vast discrepancy between what men
and women eat compared to what they think they eat," said Dr.
Eric Hentges, director of nutrition research for the Board.
Here are additional EAT II findings:
-- Both men and women greatly underestimate the numbers of servings
they eat from the Bread Group and from the Fats/Oils/Sweets
Group. They do not recognize the sources of "hidden fats" in
their diets. Hidden fats in the Bread and Vegetable groups
contribute more fat to our diets than do red and processed
. contributes fat, but it supplies large amounts of
essential nutrients_ including balanced protein, iron, zinc and
-- Average intake of foods from the Group (including and
other protein sources) is 6.4 ounces per day, or within the
recommended level of 5 to 7 ounces of per day. Total
Group intake includes less than 2 oz. of beef and only 0.6 oz. of
processed . Many people think their diets would be more
healthful if they ate little or no . But, in fact, most
persons eat appropriate amounts of nutrient-dense beef and other
-- Self-identified -eaters consume only slightly more than
self-identified vegetarians and -avoiders. While vegetarians
are sometimes perceived as eating low levels of fat, they consume
about the same level as -eaters. Hidden fats in non-
foods increase fat intake by vegetarians to levels comparable to
those of -eaters.
EAT II is expected to help educators in constructing healthful
diets for Americans, Hentges says.
Average Daily Intake Of Foods In the Group
Group Ounces Per Day
Eggs, Beans 1.3
*Total consumption per day, 6.4 oz. Not included in chart -
lamb, 0.02; veal, 0.02. Sources: MIRCA Information Services and
Slimmed-Down Beef Is Healthful Food
"Beef is back, slimmer and trimmer. . . Today's leaner cuts of
beef can hold their own with poultry and many other protein
foods." This was pointed out in an article on modern beef in the
University of Texas Lifetime Health Letter.
The article compares the fat and cholesterol contents of lean
beef with fat and cholesterol in lean cuts of other types of
, including chicken and turkey.
"The we're buying at grocery stores today is much leaner
than what we've been buying in the past," says Felicia Busch, R.
D., a Minneapolis nutrition consultant and spokesperson for the
American Dietetic Association. "Lean beef can be just as low in
fat as chicken, fish and turkey." She notes also that beef is a
good source of iron and zinc. (Reprinted with permission from
The University of Texas (Houston) Lifetime Health Letter.)
Environmental Stewardship Award
Wildlife Thrive On Idaho Ranch
Wildlife as well as cattle thrive on the environmental award-
winning ranch of Idaho's Bud and Ruth Purdy.
Bud, 77, and his wife, Ruth, 81, were recently named national
winners of the National Cattlemen's Association's Fourth Annual
Environmental Stewardship Award. The awards are presented to
cattle producers who use outstanding conservation practices to
improve cattle business performance as well as the environment.
The management practices that won the award for the Purdys
resulted in improved habitat and conditions for wildlife _ to say
nothing of improved ranch productivity. Much of the Purdys'
environmental stewardship involves water quality and water
conservation. Beneficiaries of their efforts include fish and
wildlife. Wildlife populations on the ranch include ducks, geese,
sandhill cranes, partridge, willasurd (water birds), curlews,
eagles, elk, beaver, coyotes, fox, deer and antelope.
The Purdys own and manage the Picabo (Idaho) Livestock Co., a cow-
calf business that was started by Bud's grandfather 110 years
ago. They were selected for the national award from a group of
seven regional winners. Making the selection was a committee
representing environmental organizations, government agencies,
university scientists and cattle businessmen.
"We want to do everything we can, on a voluntary basis, to
protect the environment and the lands on which we live and which
we manage," Bud says. "We feel strongly that it is the
responsibility of the landowner to institute practices that
improve the individual's welfare, the public's welfare and the
environment. It makes good sense and economic sense for everyone
"When I first came, people weren't too concerned about the
environment," Ruth says. "But, I soon found out, Bud ran the
ranch so that it would last for another 100 years. Back then, we
were doing this environmental thing, but we didn't call it that.
We were rotating cattle among the pastures."
Water management on the ranch incorporates work by beavers.
Beaver dams have helped reduce spring flooding and erosion, have
resulted in better distribution of cattle on the land, and have
kept more water at the upper end of the ranch. To protect water
quality and fishing, access by cattle to Silver Creek is limited,
and stream banks have been improved. Trees are planted along
streams to help lower water temperatures, resulting in a better
environment for fish and wildlife. The overall effort has helped
preserve gold-medal type fishing along Silver Creek.
Sprinkler-irrigation systems were converted to low-pressure, and
other steps were taken to conserve energy while pumping and
distributing water. More than 30 pipeline systems are used to
conserve water and distribute livestock over the range. More
than 100 miles of fencing divide pastures and facilitate rest-
rotation grazing programs. The Purdys have seeded more than
1,500 acres to legumes and other grasses. They have planted
shelter belts of trees, and they have a tree farm of evergreens
that are transplanted to areas of the ranch.
What Is HACCP?
How Does It Work?
Discussions of food safety and government inspection
increasingly include mention of the term HACCP (pronounced hass-
ip). Just what does this mean? The American Institute
Foundation, as part of a basic manual on HACCP, provides this
HACCP offers a modern, scientific approach to safe food
production. The initials stand for Hazard Analysis and Critical
Control Points. The HACCP system has been recommended by the
National Academy of Sciences and other groups for use throughout
the food industry. The system also is recommended as a basis for
federal food inspection.
HACCP is proactive and prevention-oriented. It focuses on
preventing or controlling food safety hazards, including
microbiological as well as chemical hazards. The system is most
effective when used at each stage of food production, from farm
to table. It can be and often now is used at the farm level, in
slaughter and processing plants, in storage and distribution
facilities, in retail and foodservice establishments, and in home
Under a HACCP system, a "hazard analysis" is conducted to assess
potential safety hazards. Then "critical control points" (CCPs)
are identified throughout the production chain. At any CCP, a
loss of control could result in unacceptable safety risks.
Companies following HACCP programs maintain records to track and
document monitoring efforts. These records can be checked by
government to verify that the company is carefully controlling
its processes and, as a result, attaining desired levels of
Industry Has Blueprint for Safety
The industry has a blueprint that can be used to help manage
food safety risks associated with E. coli 0157:H7, a rare but
virulent foodborne pathogen.
The blueprint, which includes recommendations for both industry
and government actions, was developed by a special Board
task force made up of scientists from industry and from state and
federal government agencies. The scientists emphasized the "need
to adopt a comprehensive 'farm-to-table' safety program based on
science and risk analysis." Adoption of the recommendations
would help reduce risk factors associated with E. coli 0157:H7 in
beef, said Billy Lloyd, coordinator of quality assurance for the
National Cattlemen's Association.
In addition to making specific recommendations for control of E.
coli 0157:H7 in nine segments of the production process, the
task force made the following broad recommendations:
-- Implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)
systems in each segment of the food production chain. HACCP is a
system to identify and monitor critical control points in the
production process. The industry has recommended that government
inspection be based on HACCP systems in plants.
-- Conduct research to gain a greater understanding of the source
of E. coli 0157:H7. After determining how E. coli 0157:H7 enters
the food chain, develop strategies to prevent and control it.
-- Encourage government approval and industry-wide adoption of
antimicrobial rinses for beef carcasses.
-- Support government approval and encourage further research on
irradiation as a means of eliminating any hazardous bacteria.
(Meanwhile, proper cooking is still the most effective means to
eliminate any pathogens.)
-- Conduct research to develop new pathogen reduction/intervention
technologies for use at every stage of the process from farm to
retail or foodservice.
-- Implement national consumer education programs on food safety.
While the industry develops and uses new technologies, it must be
recognized that and other foods will never be bacteria-free.
Education is necessary to prevent contamination in foodservice,
at retail and in homes.
Per Person Expenditures For *
Group Dollar Amount
Fush, Seafood $31.42
Consumers spend more of their food dollars for beef than for any
other . (Data are for food consumed at home. Almost half of
all beef is eaten away from home.) Source: USDA
*1992, Spending by urban households.
Hot dogs are a mighty popular food. Data cited by the American
Institute show that U. S. companies produce 1.5 billion
pounds of red- hot dogs per year. Counting poultry- hot
dogs also, the industry supplies 60 hot dogs per person each
year. Hot dog consumption is highest during the summer. Hot
dogs containing beef and other red are especially high in
iron, zinc and B vitamins, as well as balanced protein. The
National Aeronautics and Space Administration approved hot dogs
for space program use.
Growing numbers of scientists have recommended that irradiation
be OK'd for use on beef as well as other foods. The American
Gastroenterological Association Foundation endorsed irradiation
(similar in concept to pasteurization of milk) for use in
destroying any foodborne pathogens in ground beef. Among other
groups that have supported irradiation are World Health
Organization, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations. Irradiation has been shown to be both safe and
WE'RE GOOD GUYS
Cattlemen are among the good guys in American business.
Independent surveys show that consumers describe cattlemen as
hardworking, honest and independent people who provide a
necessary part of our diets. Consumers give cattlemen generally
good marks on the way they produce beef and on the job they do in
responding to consumers' wants and needs. In ratings of various
industries, consumers ranked the beef industry ahead of producers
of other and ahead of industries like autos, banking and
Growth in productivity of the cattle business and other parts of
U. S. agriculture is a major factor in the improvement of
Americans' standard of living over the years. Americans on
average now spend only 12% of their personal incomes on food (the
lowest level in the industrialized world), compared to 25% back
in 1950. Farm prices, after adjustment for inflation, are only
half the level of 1950, USDA statistics show. The productivity
increases result largely from mechanization, use of chemical
inputs, and advances in plant and animal breeding.
Animal agriculture continues to get high marks from Americans.
Consumer research reported by the Animal Industry Foundation _
which provides information on care of animals by farmers and
ranchers _ shows that more than 90% of Americans believe it is
okay to raise animals for food. More than 80% believe that
farmers and ranchers routinely treat animals well. As noted in
the past, it is in cattlemen's best interest to take good care of
their livestock. It is not only the humane thing to do; proper
care results in greater productivity.
Beef is found in four of the top six lunch and dinner entrees in
America. Research compiled by the NPD Group showed that the six
favorite entrees in 1993 were, in this order: pizza, ham
sandwich, hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, steak and
hamburger sandwich. It looks as though beef is a long way from
going out of style. Furthermore, when you consider the trend to
lower-fat beef products, you recognize that beef, with its
preferred taste, is likely to remain a favorite food.
How It All Started
The word "cowboy" captures the romance, the dreams, the struggle
to tame the American West. But being identified as a cowboy
wasn't always something to be proud of. Revolutionary War
patriots used the term, contemptuously, to describe Tory
supporters of King George III who would lure colonial militiamen
into dense woods with gently tinkling cowbells and then would mow
them down with musket fire. It wasn't until the late 1870's that
the proud cattlemen of the emerging West gradually embraced the
name cowboy and made it their own. By then, the cowboy was in
his heyday, a legend in the making. And to this day, the term
cowboy is applied to a man who works cattle on a ranch or in a
Ag Efficiency Spares Land For Wildlife
Improving agricultural technology will help produce enough food
for a growing population and, at the same time, save more land
for natural or wilderness use in coming years. This is noted in
a special report from the Council for Agricultural Science and
The report was prepared by Paul E. Waggoner, agronomist at the
Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station. Jesse Ausubel, The
Rockefeller University, pointed out, "This study suggests we can
have a better fed population and a greener planet. If we
maintain our current rate of technical progress in farming, we
can spare 30% of the land now used globally for agriculture, an
area larger than Alaska, and still produce enough food for the
world's growing population."
The report focuses on cropland use. In addition, other
scientists explain, grazing livestock like cattle can make use of
vast amounts of land not suitable for production. About two
thirds of the world's agricultural land is range and pasture land
that can best be used by ruminant (four-stomach) animals like
Average Featured Beef Prices, 1993 and 1994
Large beef supplies and lower wholesale prices have brought
declines in aberage retail prices. The above chart---with
monthly aberage prices of beef cuts featured in retailers'
newspaper ads---shows the downtrend. The average featured price
in 1994 (through November) was $2.52 per pound, conpared to $2.63
Source: Beef Featuring Analysis Program, Beef Industry