Because of your beef checkoff investment, interventions protecting the safety of beef have been validated and, ultimately, implemented in packing plants around the country. Your dollar is the impetus behind the integrated safety systems applied to all sectors of modern beef production.
Jeff Clausen, Beef Board member from Carson, Iowa, and chair of the industry’s Beef Safety Research Committee, says the checkoff's beef-safety initiatives help build demand for beef by maintaining consumer trust that it is safe, wholesome and nutritious.
“Of course, E. coli has and will continue to be probably in the forefront. Now the non 0157 E. coli strains are getting more attention by regulators and probably rightfully so, so some of our research is being directed toward that. And in the last couple of years, we’ve made efforts to look at the whole system – we’ve had a lot of progress made in harvest, post-harvest interventions that have been very successful but we’ve kind of gotten to a plateau on that. So to do better with beef safety and to advance that, we’re looking at the whole system, which involves pre-harvest interventions, and those will be things we can do at the feedlot level to make the load less for the packers once the animals enter the plant.”
The checkoff established the Beef Industry Food Safety Council in 1997, and it is committed to developing industry-wide, science-based strategies to address food safety issues in beef. Clausen says when members of BIFSCo talk about beef safety, they come together and leave competition at the door.
“Continuing to use BISFCo – Beef Industry Food Safety Council – that organization, it’s a great organization made up of processors, packers, wholesalers, retailers, academia, and then as well as people like myself, beef producers. And we just put our heads together – I should say they do, I mostly listen and take it in – but, on ways and best management practices that we can continue to work on bringing consumers the safest product that we can.”
Checkoff research generates beef safety solutions and communicates these innovative ideas to industry leaders who, in turn, have invested millions of dollars in safety intervention implementation, validation, and microbial testing beyond what is required by USDA. Clausen explains what your checkoff investment is doing by way of beef safety research.
“Well, the beef checkoff is the investment that gets it all started. As you know, our dollars are dwindling and so we have to really focus on where we put the checkoff dollars so that they are leveraged with industry dollars to make that research happen. And so I would say the checkoff dollars are focused on research, dissemination, and then collaboration, helping with the collaboration of all the players in the industry. I believe about $29 million have been spent of checkoff dollars since the mid-90s on beef safety research, and that’s leveraged every year with $350 million of beef industry dollars that go to beef safety, whether it’s research or interventions.”
Clausen says he has confidence in his checkoff investment, and fellow producers should, too.
“I will assure them that I personally, and the members of our committee, are dedicated to ensuring that the dollars are spent efficiently and that they’re leveraged as much as we can to get the best return we can. And I will also say that the staff is dedicated and works really hard with that same goal in mind. And then USDA, Universities, the guys that are doing the research on the ground, have that same dedication. That’s been really rewarding for me to see other segments of the industry have that dedication and that mindset.”