Consumer MisReports

Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center released its “Beef Report” on August 25. A number of questions, concerns and criticisms have been raised by the North American Meat Institute, the International Food Information Council, Business Insider, and others. Rather than answer the specific questions raised, Consumer Reports has encouraged people to read the report more closely.

Unfortunately, reading the report more closely simply raises more questions about the expertise and/or integrity of Consumer Reports and its “policy and action arm,” Consumers Union.

Here’s one example.

The Danger of Superbugs” heads a section on Page 10 and 11 detailing the health hazards posed by Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STECs, like E. coli O157). This directly implies that antimicrobial resistance will make STEC infections more difficult to treat. This is not true.

Antibiotics are not used to treat STEC infections in people. Instead, Continue reading

New video: What beef producers need to know about antimicrobial use and resistance

Click to play video
There’s no avoiding the topics of antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) these days.

We often see headlines like “Agricultural folly spawns superbugs”, “Antibiotic Resistance Declared A ‘Serious Health Threat’ By CDC As Use In Meat Industry Skyrockets”, and “Doctors call for ban of antibiotic use in farm animals as drug-resistant human infections hit ‘dangerous level’” in the mainstream media. Headlines like that are alarming for most of us – consumers, government officials, and people who make a living raising livestock.

Flip through your favorite industry publication and you’re bound to find Continue reading

Trends in consumer perceptions about beef

This Country Called Agriculture, a television show focused on agribusiness topics in Canada, recently aired an episode focused on trends in consumer perceptions about beef.  Host Rob Eirich interviewed BCRC’s Science Director Dr. Reynold Bergen on a number of issues related to the production and food safety of Canadian beef.

The first of four segments responds to common perceptions about the food safety and nutrition of beef, and begins a discussion about antibiotic use in cattle. Continue reading

Canada’s veterinary drug approval process

Health Canada’s Veterinary Drug Directorate1 puts all veterinary products (e.g. antimicrobials, growth promotants, feed additives, etc.) through a rigorous approval process before they are licensed and sold for use in beef cattle in Canada. In fact, drugs used for beef cattle go through the same process as drugs used for human health, with a few additional steps. Here’s a layman’s summary of this process. Continue reading

More Than One Way to Skin a Cow

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.

This time last year, Canada’s beef industry was coping with the Lakeside-XL beef recall. That event focused attention on the safety of Canadian beef, and the practices that the beef packing industry uses to manage food safety risks.

Since the late 1990’s, North America’s beef processors have used Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plans (also called HACCP, and pronounced “hassip”) to improve food safety. A HACCP plan identifies food safety hazards, identifies the steps that can adequately control those hazards, actively monitors the controls that are implemented, outlines how to fix problems that arise, develops ways to verify that these management practices are working, and keeps records to document that these steps are being done right. Not all packing plants are designed and built from the same blueprint, so each plant has unique challenges. Continue reading

Antimicrobial resistance: does Canadian beef production contribute?

In March 2013, a policy paper was released by the Ontario Medical Association on the contribution of inappropriate use of antibiotics to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The report strongly implied that antibiotic use in livestock is a major contributor to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections in humans. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) would like to make the public aware that the report included several misconceptions and myths about beef cattle and AMR. Continue reading