Monday, October 08, 2007

October 4, 2007

Findlay Dining Commons
Penn State University

Last yesterday afternoon Jenny Rassler (PA Beef Ambassador), Amy Shollenberger (Block and Bridle member), and myself packed up our beef promotional material and set up our table in the Findlay Dining Commons of East Halls, home to 4,000 underclassmen students. The dining commons was all decked out with a 'country western' style theme and the smell of BBQ ribs and chili was amazing.

Jenny, Amy, and I passed out 'BIWFD' stickers, hamburger erasers, and nurtitional information to as many students as we could. We also involved the students in a 'beef trivia' game, asking them fun facts about beef. I would estimate of the 4,000 kids in East, we probably reached about 3,000. The table tent I helped design was on all the tables across campus and a reporter for the Penn State Daily Collegian wrote up a very positive article for us. (one correction to that article: J. Rassler is our PA Beef Ambassador- the article says A. Shollenberger is)

But really, I think the reporter did a wonderful job and didn't twist facts around as media reporters tend to do. (the article even made the bottom of the front page!)--Penn State is home to 43,000 students.

Some of the positive impression we made was with the beef trivia game. The one question was "how many cuts of beef are considered lean by the USDA," the two girls we asked the question to answered, "one." So-needless to say, they were shocked to hear the answer was 29. Another boy who got a kick out of the little 'BIWFD' stickers asked if he could have a couple- he had a vegetarian friend he wanted to give them to. We were also able to talk to several students about the production story and how cattle are harvested. All in all, I think the fact that we were just students too, simply promoting beef because we feel it is important and we want to help eductate other kids about why they should eat it made a big impact. Kids thought we did this for a job and got paid, so the fact that we did this on our own free will made them realize that it really is important to us.

Finally- A BIG Thanks to the PA Beef Council for providing us with the materials and to the dining commons for being so willing to work with us on this promotion.

-Chris Molinaro
Current PA Beef Ambassador
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:

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