The lawsuit against 11 poultry producers brought on by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is scheduled to start on Thursday, after many delays and motions brought on by both sides of the lawsuit. An estimated 345,000 tons of litter are produced per year in the 1,800 poultry houses that exist in the Illinois River watershed. The farmers dispose of the litter by spreading it in the watershed as fertilizer, although more and more of the litter is being hauned away by trucks since the lawsuit began in 2005. Edmondson has claimed that the waste has caused the watershed to become polluted.

The poultry companies in the lawsuit maintain that they do not own the litter – the houses do – so Edmondson is suing the wrong parties. Furthermore, they state the litter cannot be singled out as the cause of phosphorus found in the watershed, when the area has been used by other animals and humans.

In an interview with The Morning News, Edmondson maintains that the companies are responsible. “They own the birds. They own the feed that goes into the birds. They own the drugs that go into the birds to keep them healthy. But they don’t own the stuff that comes out the other end?” His lawsuit is to force the companies to take steps to reduce or eliminate pollution form the litter.

Meanwhile, locals in the area told the Associated Press that the Illinois River has improved since 2005, when Edmondson first launched the lawsuit against the poultry companies. Archie Peyton, a former environmental consultant and area resident, said that the water quality is better, and there has been very little algae.

"There's got to be a reason for that, which to me it follows that the last two years that most of the poultry litter in this region has been trucked out. But it looks to me like that's making an impact on the river," Peyton said.

Source: The Morning News, Associated Press

AMI pushes for carcass irradiation

The American Meat Institute (AMI) is urging the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to move forward with the rulemaking process regarding its petition to allow electron beam irradiation (e-beam) to be applied to the surface of beef carcasses as a processing aid.

“Given the substantial food safety benefits this technology offers it seems that the technical issues being raised four years after the petition’s submission can be appropriately addressed during the notice and comment rulemaking process,” said AMI Executive Vice President James Hodges in a letter to Jerold R. Mande, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Food Safety.

“AMI has asked that FSIS recognize e-beam irradiation as a processing aid when applied to the surface of chilled beef carcasses and that the agency treat this process no differently than it treats any other processing aid, Hodges noted, adding that “AMI has provided the necessary research and rationale to support our request.”

Hodges asked Mande for an opportunity to meet to resolve any issues of concern and to clarify any misunderstanding that may exist regarding the regulatory process to implement this promising technology.

To view Hodges’ letter, click here:

Source: AMI

Nebraska meat processor seeks resolution to inspection lawsuit

Marky's Meat Market, Omaha, Neb., is facing federal prosecutors over the company's failure to comply with federal meat inspection rules, and the company's owner says he is hoping the matter can be resolved after two years. According to the Associated Press, the company was found to have violated meat inspection rules by exceeding the federal threshold on how much uninspected meat can be sold commercially.

Mark Gies, Marky's owner, said that he was not aware about the limits on commercial sales until 2007, when a USDA official told him. In order to continue to sell meat to his restaurant customers, he needs to have an inspector at his business daily. Gies says that he has made necessary repairs and adjusted his HACCP plan accordingly, but he has been unable to get is approved because USDA officials haven't returned to the business since last December.

"I feel like I've done everything the USDA has asked to come into compliance," Gies said. The assistant U.S. attorney overseeing the case said that the USDA will commit an inspector to monitor the company once it comes under compliance.

Source: Associated Press

Hormel begins $1 million expansion project

Hormel Foods is adding approximately 3,600 square feet to its Austin, Minn., headquarters. The new expansion, when completed, will move a skinning operation to a new location south of the main biulding on the company's campus. The project, which began in August, is expected to be completed in January, 2010. The cost of the project is estimated at $1 million.

Source: Austin Daily Herald