The USDA announced that pigs in a commercial herd in Indiana have tested positive for the H1N1 virus, marking the first time the virus has been found in such a herd. Four tissue samples tested positive for the virus as a part of its swine surveillance program.

The samples were collected in late October, and the department reported that the animals have recovered from the illness, as have the people who were handling the animals. The news comes just days after U.S. officials announced an end to the U.S. pork import ban in China that was initiated shortly after initial reports about the mis-named “swine flu” started spreading.

Source: Associated Press

Maryland poultry farmers may face tougher EPA regulations

A senior advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency has said that Maryland poultry farers may face more stringent pollution requirements than farmers in other states. Chuck Fox said that while the amount of pollution that large-scale poultry farms can produce is regulated by the individual states, the EPA can override them and force the states to make stricter guidelines.

"When you look to the future, it very well might be that we need to control pollution beyond that which it is controlled in other parts of the country for us to achieve our goals here in the Chesapeake Bay," Fox said, in a face-to-face interview, reports the Capital News Service. He added that the Clean Water Act was written to provide for tougher restrictions in places like the Chesapeake Bay watershed than in places like the Ohio River watershed.

A spokesman for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said that the governor was concerned that tougher restrictions would place Maryland poultry farmers at a competitive disadvantage with those from other states.

"It's not a matter of the EPA's authority, it's a matter of fairness," said Shaun Adamec, press secretary.

Source: Capital News Service

Roast beef products recalled due to allergen

Curly's Food Inc., a Sioux City, Iowa, establishment, is recalling approximately 12,181 pounds of roast beef deli products because they were inadvertently mislabeled and contain an undeclared allergen, soy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. Soy is a known potential allergen, which is not declared on the label.

The product subject to recall is cases containing two various size weight deli-faced pieces of "Healthy Ones, Medium Cooked Roast Beef, 97% Fat Free, No Fillers, No Artificial Flavors, Lower Sodium" in vacuum packaged bags. Each package bears a use by date of "01/03/2010" or "01/10/2010," a case code of "30900-17856" as well as the establishment number "EST. 15878" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The roast beef deli products were produced on October 5 and 12, 2009, and were distributed to retail-type delicatessens and Department of Defense Commissaries in California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The problem was discovered by the company following a product check. FSIS has received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

Canadian packers seeking government money for BSE prevention procedures

Canadian beef packers are asking the government to pay C$26 million ($24.5 million U.S.) annually to dispose of cattle parts as part of preventative measures against the spread of mad cow disease. A group of packers, farmers and renderers met with the House of Commons agriculture committee to plead their case. They are asking for $31.70 for each animal over 30 months to dispose of specified risk materials (SRM), including the brain, spinal cord, tonsils and other parts.

Reuters reports that U.S. packers only have to dispose of the brain and spinal cord at a lower cost, and the other parts can be used in livestock feed.

"(The cost difference) really affects (small packers), and the major packers as well," said Brian Read, an executive with XL Foods and a member of the Canadian Meat Council. "It's just right in your face every morning." He added that the requested payment would put Canadian packers on a level playing field with their American counterparts.

Source: Reuters

Fairbank Farms continues operations, awaits USDA inspection

In the midst of a recall of almost 550,000 pounds of ground beef, Fairbank Farms is awaiting a USDA inspection that will determine if there will be any needed changes to its operation. The Asheville, N.Y., company may face penalties and procedure changes once the federal inspection is done.

A spokesman for the USDA said that the department’s first task is to publicize the recall and find any points along the supply chain where the beef may have been processed, shipped, repackaged and sold, reports The Buffalo News. Once that is done, FSIS inspectors will visit the plant and determine if there should be any changes in equipment or procedures, or if any penalties should be assessed.

For its part, Fairbank Farms stressed that all ground beef should be heated to an internal temperature of 160 degrees in order to kill any pathogens that might be in the product. “A lot of times people don’t pull out their meat thermometer until Thanksgiving,” said Agnes Schafer, Fairbank Farms’ representative. “We really recommend using it all the time.” She also notes that tests have not specifically linked the company to those people taken ill from the E. coli outbreak. There have been two deaths attributed to the outbreak, and 16 people were hospitalized, three with kidney failure.

Source: The Buffalo News