Reviewing calf puller best practices before spring calving

Most cattle producers in the U.S. follow a spring calving calendar, which means they’re gearing up for a busy season as we speak. University of Tennessee Extension says that spring calving is often preferred because of the availability of cool-season forage immediately after the calves are born, and because it allows producers to wean and market calves before winter — meaning lower winter feeding costs.

If you’re one of the majority who is preparing for the pitter patter of tiny hooves coming soon (or have already begun), here are some things to keep in mind:

Be prepared. Do your homework — review any calving plans you’ve mapped out from years past, and do some reading on what you’ll need to keep in mind. A document from Oklahoma State University Extension, “Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers,” is one of the most oft-recommended texts out there for all things cow birth-related. [ More … ]

Secure Pork Plan aims to help pork producers stop foreign disease before it arrives

As swine diseases threaten to spread into countries they were previously absent from, authorities are sharpening their approach to helping pork producers protect their operations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with help from The Pork Checkoff and Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health, is promoting the adoption of Secure Pork Plans, as part of its Secure Pork Supply initiative.

The initiative highlights the risks posed by diseases like foot and mouth disease (FMD), classical swine fever (CSF) and African swine fever (ASF). Each of these diseases has largely remained outside of the U.S., and ASF especially has been rattling nerves as a current epidemic threatens to spread into mostly uncharted territory. ASF is currently responsible for several outbreaks in Asia and Eastern Europe, making producers in Western Europe and North America nervous.

A Secure Pork Plan focuses on emergency preparedness. If a new swine disease was introduced to a country’s swine population, export trade could halt suddenly. Control areas would be established, as is already the case as a preemptive measure in some Western European countries in terms of controlling their wild boar populations. It’s been estimated that ASF reaching U.S. shores could cost its swine industry up to $16.5 billion and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk. [ More … ]

Food parasites to watch out for: Top 10

Last year’s outbreak of the foodborne pathogen Cyclospora in pre-made salad mixes brought a sometimes-overlooked type of pathogen into the forefront of people’s minds once again: parasites.

Some of the most well-known culprits behind food recalls are bacteria that live or die based on environmental conditions, like Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. While parasites and bacteria might be present in environments that aren’t closely monitored for threats, parasites are organisms that live on or in another living host, gaining sustenance at the expense of said host. Cyclospora is a single-cell parasite that, like most other foodborne parasites, cause food poisoning symptoms like diarrhea, fatigue and cramps. [ More … ]

Report: Listeria is deadliest foodborne pathogen, according to European data

A new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Food Safety Authority analyzes 2017 data from the 28 members of the European Union as well as nine other European countries.

The most fatal foodborne pathogens, the report found, were:

  • Listeria, with 255 deaths
  • Salmonella, with 156 deaths
  • Campylobacter, with 45 deaths
  • Shiga toxin-producing coli (STEC), with 20 deaths

Most marked is the rise in Listeria cases, which have increased over the past five years, while other pathogen infections have sat at similar numbers during that time. [ More … ]

Neogen acquires Canadian animal genomics laboratory

Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ: NEOG) announced today that it has acquired the assets of the Edmonton-based Delta Genomics Centre — a major animal genomics laboratory in Canada.

With the acquisition, Delta’s laboratory operations will be renamed Neogen Canada, and become Neogen’s fifth animal genomics laboratory — joining locations in the U.S., Scotland, Brazil, and Australia. The acquisition is intended to help accelerate the growth of Neogen’s animal genomics business throughout Canada.

Delta is a major supplier of genetic testing to Canada’s purebred beef associations, commercial beef cattle producers, and national genomics research community. The laboratory has been a significant, long-term customer of Neogen’s comprehensive suite of genomic products. [ More … ]

Gluten free in the land down under

The predominant food regulatory body of Australia and New Zealand has laid down what has been called the “toughest labeling laws in the world,” including its standards for gluten-free products.

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, a regulatory body made up of the governments of the two countries and their states/territories, foods must meet certain guidelines to be labeled “gluten-free.” They must be independently tested, with a certificate verifying less than three parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

These gluten-free products must contain no oats in their ingredients, or gluten-containing grains that have used malt. If even a single ingredient was derived from a gluten-containing grain, it must be labeled, no matter how little the amount.

These regulations apply to all food sold or prepared for sale in the two countries, as well as imported food. [ More … ]

A year in review: 2018’s foodborne illness outbreaks

While the official numbers aren’t in yet, the trend of 2018’s foodborne illness outbreak situation seems to be “more isn’t always a bad thing.”

Over the course of the year, food safety experts have pointed out that, at first glance, the number of outbreaks seems to be increasing. But the truth is, something else is increasing: better reporting and the use of investigative technology.

“The science is getting better, and the public health resources are getting better, and we’re just getting better at finding things,” food safety expert Benjamin Chapman told LiveScience.

Among the several thousand recalls to be tallied in 2018, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control maintains a list of the most notable ones. Here’s a recap of those, including some from outside the U.S.

“Lettuce” discuss E. coli
The year has seen two large E. coli outbreaks associated with romaine lettuce and leafy greens. Eventually traced back to runoff from cattle farms near the lettuce field irrigation canals, the outbreaks highlighted the importance of water testing for pathogens like E. coli. [ More … ]

This holiday season: No raw cookie dough, and no raw hamburger

We go over it every year. When you make cookie dough for your holiday cookies, wait until you’ve baked it before eating.

We know, we know. Cookie dough is delicious. Delicious, but dangerous. A number of ingredients can cause foodborne illness. Raw eggs are associated with Salmonella, and raw flour, which is usually not processed to kill bacteria, has been linked to E. coli. The high heat from cooking the dough kills off the bacteria.

Around the holidays, when household cookie-making peaks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a warning reminding people of the risks associated with eating raw dough. But this year, authorities are issuing a warning about a decidedly stranger holiday treat. [ More … ]

Internationally, swine industry works to prevent the spread of African swine fever

China, producer of nearly half of the world’s pork supply, is the latest country to be affected by an ongoing epidemic of African swine fever (ASF) virus.

The viral strain circulating China is believed to be Georgia 2007, named for the country and year it first appeared in. From Georgia, this strain spread through the Caucasus mountains into Russia, and then likely split into Belgium and China around the same time in 2018. These outbreaks have made 2018 one of the biggest years for the disease recently.

So far, in 2018, over 360,000 cases of ASF have been reported, according to the World Organization for Animal Health. Of those, more than 240,000 are from Romania, more than 98,000 in Russia, 10,000 in the Ivory Coast and at least 5,000 in China. Overall, there are currently 87 separate outbreaks in eight countries occurring around the globe.

Experts forecast a further spread of the disease. It’s been predicted to hit the U.S. within a year, where it will cost an estimated $16.5 billion dollars. U.S. authorities, in response to the threat, have increased the use of sniffer dogs for international travelers and have installed quarantine stations. More frequently, passengers and cargo from China and Russia are being inspected. These measures have been implemented after ASF-positive pork products were found in a South Korean airport. [ More … ]

Neogen reports second quarter results

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 20, 2018 — Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ: NEOG) announced today that its revenues for the second quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, which ended Nov. 30, increased 6% to $107,098,000, from the previous year’s second quarter revenues of $100,698,000. Current year-to-date revenues were $206,724,000, also up 6% compared to $194,907,000 for the same period a year ago.

Second quarter net income was $16,051,000, or $0.31 per share, compared to the prior year’s $17,100,000, or $0.33 per share. In the prior year second quarter, Neogen benefitted from a $3.8 million tax credit, representing $0.07 per share, resulting from employee stock option exercises. In fiscal year 2019, the majority of employee stock option exercises occurred in the first three months of the year, benefitting the first quarter; $484,000 in benefit was recognized in the second quarter of fiscal 2019 from the exercise of options, or $0.01 per share. Current year-to-date net income was $31,288,000, or $0.60 per share, compared to $29,014,000, or $0.56 per share, for the same period a year ago.

“We are generally pleased with our operational performance, considering the continued sluggish animal protein markets and currency headwinds we faced in the quarter,” said John Adent, Neogen’s president and chief executive officer. “When we consider the tremendous opportunities that exist for Neogen outside of the United States, we are willing to accept the occasional bump in the road from adverse currency conversions. In the quarter, we had a number of strong performances in sales of recently commercialized products, especially in our foodborne pathogen and natural toxin product lines.” [ More … ]