Monday, October 08, 2007

False McDonald’s rumor re-circulating

October 5, 2007

A false rumor about McDonald’s continues to circulate around via e-mail claiming that McDonald’s is refusing to buy U.S. beef, is importing beef from South America that may be unsafe, and asking recipients of the e-mail to boycott McDonald’s. NCBA recently has received a number of inquiries about this e-mail.

This rumor has been circulating in various forms for at least five years and makes the claim that the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) originated the e-mail. This is not true and TCFA has issued the following statement in regard to the rumor:

“Texas Cattle Feeders Association is not connected in any way with the email you received. The email, which has been in wide circulation in various forms for several years now, makes a false claim when it identifies Texas Cattle Feeders Association as the original source of the message. No such message has ever been put out by our organization. Unfortunately, we do not know the identity or motive of the person or persons making this improper use of our name.”

The e-mail also represents Dr. David Forrest at Texas A&M University as the email originator. This also is untrue. Dr. Forrest does not know how his name got associated with the rumor and, in regard to the e-mail, Dr. Forrest has said:

“I had nothing to do with composing this e-mail, the information it contains is false, and I do not support any of the actions called for in the e-mail.”

The phone number listed for Dr. Forrest in the e-mail is, indeed, the number for the TAMU animal science department but please do not call the number. The animal science department reports it has received a large number of calls as a result of the currently circulating rumor.

More information about the e-rumor can be found at the following links:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/mcdbeef.asp

http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/f/foreignbeef.htm

The genesis of the e-rumor may have been an announcement by McDonald’s in 2002 that, due to competitive issues, it was going to pilot test imported lean trim product from Australia and New Zealand in about 400 of its U.S. stores. The major quick-service chains use imported lean trim because, while there is a surplus of 50% lean trim in the U.S., there is a shortage of 80% - 90% lean trim. Imported lean beef is blended with trimmings from U.S. fed cattle to make beef patties for the quick service restaurant chains.

McDonald’s says it is the largest purchaser of U.S. beef, buying about 1 billion pounds annually. In regard to beef from South America, only Uruguay can export fresh beef to the United States; all other South American beef must be in cooked or canned form due to Foot and Mouth Disease concerns.

The United States is the largest customer for beef from Australia, New Zealand, Central America and Uruguay and almost all of those imports are in the form of lean trim that is used in either quick service hamburgers or case-ready frozen hamburger. All plants that export beef to the United States are approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and must maintain the same (equivalent) Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standards as U.S. packing plants. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service regularly audits these facilities.

Funded by The Beef Checkoff

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