Texan official upset after Chipotle picks Australian beef
The commission for agriculture in the US State of Texas has lashed out at the Chipotle Mexican Grill over its decision to import grass-fed beef from Australia rather than the Lone Star State. An Associated Press report this week said Commissioner Todd Staples has written a letter to Chipotle founder Steve Ells saying his belief that Australian beef is raised more responsibly than cattle in Texas or other US States is “misguided” and “irresponsible”. Mr Ells last month wrote in an article for Huffington Post that Chipotle was having difficulty getting beef it prefers from US producers, because the lingering drought is leading to the smallest cattle herds in decades, and was turning to Australia to source the beef it requires.
ACCC acts on false pork labelling
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a warning to a South Australian pork producer over false-labelling claims. Barossa Farm Produce director Saskia Beer, the daughter of Barossa Valley food icon and television chef Maggie Beer, has agreed to a court enforceable undertaking for making representations about its products that it acknowledged were likely to be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. Between about 9 December 2010 and 28 May 2013, Barossa Farm Produce made various representations that the pork used in its “The Black-Pig” smallgoods was from heritage Berkshire pigs, or other heritage black pig breeds; and/or free range pigs, when that was not the case. Black pig breeds, which include Berkshire pigs, are heritage breeds. Berkshire pork is known for its texture and flavour due to a higher fat-to-meat ratio than white pig breeds, qualities that make Berkshire pork a premium meat product. “A business must not make claims about the characteristics of its products when it has no reasonable basis for doing so,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “False credence claims in respect of food products are a priority area for the ACCC.” As part of the court-enforceable undertaking, Barossa Farm Produce has alsoacknowledged that it did not have adequate systems in place to verify the breed or type of pig used in “The Black-Pig” smallgoods; undertaken to review its compliance systems to ensure such conduct does not reoccur; and undertaken to publish a corrective notice on its website, and ensure that its current directors attend trade practices compliance training.
Researchers create better methods to detect E. coli
Kansas State University says its diagnosticians are helping the cattle industry save millions of dollars each year by developing earlier and accurate detection of E. coli. KSU masters students and professors are leading a USDA funded project studying pre-harvest food safety in beef cattle. Masters student Lance Noll has developed and validated a molecular assay that can detect and quantify major genes specific for E. coli O157. “Developing a method to detect E. coli before it can potentially contaminate the food supply benefits the beef industry by preventing costly recalls but also benefits the consumer by ensuring the safety of the beef supply,” Mr Noll said. The newly developed test is a molecular assay, or polymerase chain reaction, that detects bacteria based on genetic sequences, which are the bacteria’s “fingerprints”. The test is rapid and less labor-intensive than existing detection methods. The method can be automated and test many samples in a short period of time. The test can be used in a diagnostic or research laboratory to accurately detect E. coli and can help with quality control in cattle facilities. The novelty of the test is that it targets four genes.
New supercomputer to boost Australia’s weather forecasting capabilities
Federal Environment minister Greg Hunt says Australians will benefit from enhanced forecasting services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology with the acquisition of a new supercomputer scheduled to begin operation in mid-2016. “The new supercomputer announced in the Federal Budget will ensure the continued and improved delivery of forecast and warnings services,” Minister Hunt said. The new supercomputer will enable the Bureau to provide more accurate and localised weather information, such as the location and timing of severe thunderstorms and cyclones, improved timing and direction of wind changes in fire weather, and better flood warnings. Parliamentary Secretary Senator Simon Birmingham said the increase in computing capability will also offer the Bureau additional processing power and the ability to run the complex mathematical models used to forecast weather at a higher resolution, as well as more frequently. “Like all IT infrastructure, supercomputers have a limited operational life. This will be the eighth replacement since the Bureau’s first supercomputer was commissioned in 1988,” Senator Birmingham said.
ACCC warns of unsafe Remington rifles
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is alerting consumers that Remington USA has recalled certain rifles that may have an unsafe trigger mechanism. The two rifles of concern are the Remington Model 700™ and the Model Seven™ with X-Mark Pro® (XMP®) triggers, manufactured between 1 May 2006 and 9 April 2014 and sold nationally by licensed dealers. The ACCC understands that over 21,000 of these rifles have been imported and approximately 4,000 are still within the supply chain.“The ACCC is concerned that around 17,000 rifles in the hands of gun owners across Australia may unintentionally discharge without touching the trigger,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.“These rifles are currently under recall in the United States. Although there have been no reports of injuries in Australia or the United States, care should be taken when handling these rifles,” Ms Rickard said. The ACCC urges owners of those models to follow the safety steps: Stop using your rifle – any unintended discharge has the potential to cause injury or death; Take extreme care when unloading – make sure you always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; Leave your rifle safely stored – don’t attempt to diagnose or repair the rifle. Remington proposes to replace XMP triggers in all affected rifles free of charge. Owners can get more information, including instructions on how to locate the serial number on the Recalls Australia website.
Action needed to bring rail out of shambles
AgForce Queensland has called on state government to restore efficiency to the ‘shambolic’ state rural rail freight services by actioning 45 recommendations handed down this week by the Parliamentary Committee investigating ‘Rail Freight Use by the Agriculture and Livestock Industries’. The recommendations, many of which were put forward by AgForce, will seek to ultimately redress exorbitant freight prices and expand the limited transport options currently provided to Queensland primary producers for movement of their commodities.AgForce transport spokesman, Grant Maudsley, said poor rail freight access had for too long stifled agricultural productivity and the Committee was clear action must be taken by government as a matter of priority. AgForce Grains President, Wayne Newton, said not only would an improved rail network improve agricultural competitiveness and profitability but would also more broadly enhance road safety, the environment and the economy. “Research has shown one single grain train can take up to 500 trucks off the road,” Mr Newton said. “With up to 80 per cent of current bulk grain and 100pc of containerised exports moving by road now, improved rail efficiency and use will reduce grower costs and dramatically improve road safety and reduce road damage.