Fact Sheets & Publications

Click on any category above to find information covering a wide rage of meat and poultry issues from economic concerns to food safety.

Animal Handling and Welfare

  • Animal Welfare in Packing Plants: an Overview

    Many religious laws from different faiths have formed the basis for modern livestock processing practices. One common theme among all faiths has been a respect for animals, avoidance of animal suffering and appreciation for the nourishment that they provide. These themes permeate the practices of the meat packing industry. Read More [PDF]

  • Products Derived From Animals

    Few people comprehend the important role that animal by-products play in their daily lives. In addition to being a major source of good nutrition for more than 95 percent of Americans, cattle, hogs and sheep by-products contribute to many commonly used products. Read More [PDF]

  • Religious Slaughter

    Most meat produced in federally inspected plants in the U.S. is produced under the Humane Slaughter Act of 1978. However, when Congress originally passed a similar law in 1958, it recognized that some of the law’s requirements would conflict with the religious slaughter practices that are a part of the Jewish and Muslim traditions. Read More [PDF]


Animal Health

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Cured and Processed Meat

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  • Diet and Cancer Research

    What causes cancer? That question has vexed scientists for centuries. Researchers continue to look at genetics, environmental exposure, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, vitamin and supplement use, exercise habits, food consumption and many other factors.Read More [PDF]

  • Processed Meats: Convenience, Nutrition, Taste

    Processed meat and poultry products like bacon, hot dogs, sausage, ham and other deli meats are great American traditions and iconic foods. In fact, bacon is often called the ultimate “conversion food” because it tempts even the strictest vegetarian. Read More

  • Salt Use in Meat and Poultry Products

    Fresh, unprocessed meat and poultry products by their nature contain very low levels of salt. However, salt is added when products are processed to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. In fact, salt has a rich history of use in ensuring meat safety before refrigeration. Read More [PDF]

  • Sodium Nitrite: The Facts

    Nitrite serves a vital public health function: it blocks the growth of botulism-causing bacteria and prevents spoilage. Nitrite also gives cured meats their characteristic color and flavor. Read More [PDF]


Employment

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  • Employment and Wages in the Meat Industry

    The meat and poultry industry employs nearly 500,000 workers. More than 140,000 work in meat packing plants (those that slaughter animals) nearly 119,000 work in meat processing plants that further process meat cuts into ground beef, hot dogs, ham and other products. Read More [PDF]

  • Facts About E-Verify Program

    E-Verify is an employment eligibility verification program enacted as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996. Read More [PDF]

  • Foreign-Born Workers in the Meat and Poultry Industry

    In the early part of the 20th Century, during the industrial boom and a period characterized by huge growth in the number of immigrants entering the United States, foreign-born workers came to play significant roles in the U.S. meat industry. Read More [PDF]


Environments

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  • Animal Agriculture and GHG Emissions: Fact Versus Fallacy

    The critical discussion about the role that animal agriculture plays in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been undermined by serious inaccuracies which have been repeated by the media and conveyed by some anti-agriculture advocacy groups. Read More [PDF]

  • Climate Change and Animal Agriculture: The Facts

    To what degree does human activity on Earth lead to climate change? Although the answer to that question is unknown, there is growing public and governmental concern that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be curtailed to reduce future effects of increasing global temperatures and climate change. Read More


Ethanol

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  • Ethanol and Biofuels

    According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Ethanol: “A colorless volatile flammable liquid (C2H5OH) that is the intoxicating agent in liquors and is also used as a solvent called also ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol. Read More [PDF]


Food Safety

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  • Campylobacter

    Campylobacter is a group of spiral-shaped bacteria that can cause disease in humans and animals. Campylobacter is one of the most common bacterial causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. Virtually all cases occur as isolated, sporadic events that are not typically associated with large foodborne outbreaks. Read More

  • E. coli O157:H7

    Generic Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria are an essential, but normally harmless component of the digestive tract of healthy animals and people. There is a type of E. coli called shiga toxin-producing E. coli also referred as STEC, which typically cause foodborne illness. The most common STEC is E. coli O157:H7, a virulent strain that is found in cattle, deer and other warm-blooded animals. Read More

  • Listeria

    Listeria is a bacterium that is commonly found in the environment, on our hands and in our refrigerators. Most people are routinely exposed to Listeria with no health consequences. However, one type of ListeriaListeria monocytogenes – is extremely virulent. Read More

  • Yersinia enterocolitica

    Yersinia enterocolitica is a bacterium that can be found in animals such as pigs, birds, beavers, cats and dogs, and has been detected in environmental sources such as soil and water (e.g., ponds and lakes). It is not part of the normal human flora. Read More

  • Non-O157:H7 Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia Coli

    Producing the safest meat and poultry possible is the industry’s number one priority. Federal inspectors are present in meat plants every day to ensure that the plants comply with federal food safety rules and that the technologies used to destroy bacteria are working to ensure that only safe and wholesome products enter the marketplace. Read More

  • Microbiological Testing

    Every aspect of the world — including humans, animals and plants — contains bacteria. Bacteria serve a critical role in ecology of our planet and the day-to-day activities of our lives. Some bacteria — like those used to produce food products such as yogurt, cheese and fermented sausages — are considered “good bacteria.” Read More

  • Pathogen Control in Ground Beef

    Ground beef is a staple in the American diet. The average American consumes nearly 28 pounds of ground beef per year, totaling about 10 billion pounds of ground beef produced in the U.S. annually. More than 1,000 plants located in all 50 states produce fresh beef and ground beef. Read More

  • Interventions to Ensure Meat Safety

    All meat and poultry products that enter commerce must be inspected by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the public health agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to ensure that it is safe and produced in compliance with federal regulations. Read More [PDF]

  • National Residue Program

    The National Residue Program (NRP) is a testing program to control veterinary drug, pesticide, and environmental contaminant residues in domestic and imported meat, poultry, and egg products. Read More [PDF]

  • Food Defense in the Meat and Poultry Industry

    As an industry that sells nutritious food to more than 95 percent of Americans, meat and poultry companies place a high priority on ensuring the security of our food facilities and supply. While food defense is a relatively new concept for some consumers and the news media, it is not a new concept to meat and poultry processors. Read More [PDF]

  • Grilling and Hetrocyclic Amines

    Recent news reports have prompted questions about grilling safety and about consuming meat and poultry products that are charred. This fact sheet aims to answer questions commonly asked by consumers. Read More [PDF]

  • Irradiation

    Irradiation is a safe and simple process that uses energy to destroy harmful bacteria on food products. This energy can be generated from cobalt-60 or cesium-137 (referred to as gamma irradiation), x-ray machines or electron accelerators (most often called electron-beam technology). Read More [PDF]

  • Sanitary Equipment Design

    Optimizing the design and performance criteria for equipment and related systems as well as establishing industry-wide specifications benefits the entire industry by promoting one standard design that will help reduce contamination and associated recalls. These principles are appropriate equipment for all food uses. Read More [PDF]

  • U.S. Meat and Poultry Inspection System Overview

    From 1906 through the present, the meat and poultry industry has become one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States. The U.S. meat and poultry inspection system has augmented industry efforts to create the safest meat and poultry food supply in the world. Read More [PDF]

  • Questions and Answers About Ground Beef, Hamburger and Patties

    When beef carcasses are cut into steaks and roasts, some smaller pieces result and are called “trimmings.” Trimmings are simply smaller cuts of beef that resemble various sized chunks of beef-like stew meat. Some trimmings have different levels of lean content. Read More [PDF]


Industry at a Glance

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Industry Structure

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  • Case Studies in the Potential Consequences of the GIPSA Proposed Rule

    The Proposal would have eliminated the need for a plaintiff to demonstrate injury to competition in lawsuits involving alleged unfair or undue preference activities under the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA or the Act). Read More [PDF]

  • Competition in the Livestock and Meat Industry: What the Courts Have Said

    USDA’s Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) published a proposed rule (the Proposal) that would have established, among other things, criteria regarding undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages, as mandated by the Title XI of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill). Read More [PDF]

  • Key Facts About the Proposed GIPSA Rule

    USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) was directed by Title XI of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) to promulgate a rule to address five specific issues within the jurisdiction of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA). Read More [PDF]

  • Livestock Marketing

    Farmers and ranchers market the livestock they produce in different ways. The wide range of options available to producers and packers provides a means for market signals and consumer demands to work rapidly and efficiently, while providing opportunities for all market segments. Read More [PDF]

  • Studies of U.S. Red Meat Industry Structure: A Summary

    Agriculture is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy and red meat production accounts for the largest segment of that with $80 billion in annual sales, 500,000 employees and a growing array of products consumed by the world. Read More [PDF]


International Trade

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  • Asia

    US meat and poultry exports to East Asia totaled over $6.96 billion USD in 2013, an increase from the $6.3 billion in 2012. This is due to staged market openings over the past several years that have allowed increased market access to Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Read More [PDF]

  • European Union

    The European Union (EU) is a vast market. The EU-28 has a population of over 500 million and is the world’s largest agricultural importer. Croatia recently acceded in 2013, and several additional countries are candidates for EU membership, including Turkey. Read More [PDF]

  • Latin America

    Brazil and Argentina are the region’s two largest consumers and exporters of meat. Smaller nations in South America are developing and potential markets for the US meat and poultry industry. Read More [PDF]

  • International Trade: The U.S. Meat and Poultry Industry

    Progressive reductions in trade barriers and advances in technology have led to a rapidly expanding and integrated global marketplace. The world economy has grown at an unprecedented pace in recent years, with the exception of the economic slowdown in 2008-2009, and has fueled increasing demand for agricultural products. Read More [PDF]


Labeling

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  • Country of Origin Labeling

    Mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) is a labeling law that requires retail grocers to inform consumers about the country or countries of origin of certain covered foods. Food products covered by the law include whole muscle cut and ground beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. Read More [PDF]


Nutrition and Consumption

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  • U.S. Meat and Poultry Consumption Overview

    The meat and poultry industry is the largest segment of United States agriculture. Total meat and poultry production in 2012 reached more than 93.1 billion pounds. Annual sales for 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, are estimated at more than $185.8 billion among the meat packing, meat processing and poultry processing industries. Read More [PDF]


Packaging and Shelf Life

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  • Carbon Monoxide in Meat Packaging: Myths and Facts

    Background: A petition submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Kalsec, Inc., maker of a line of herbal extracts that retard the effects of oxidation and thus maintain the color and flavor of meat, makes numerous erroneous allegations about carbon monoxide used in some modified atmosphere packaged (MAP) meat products that are processed and packaged centrally at meat plants. Read More [PDF]

  • Case Ready Meats/Modified Atmosphere Packaging

    In the first half of the century, fresh meat was processed into carcasses and sent to retail stores, where the carcasses were cut and packaged. In the 1960s, meat packers began offering “boxed beef” or “boxed meats.” Instead of receiving full carcasses, retail stores could order portions of the carcass (called “primals” and “sub-primals”) that were already vacuum-packaged and boxed. Read More [PDF]

  • Ground Beef Shelf Life Guide

    This chart depicts typical shelf life for ground beef using common production practices, packaging techniques and normal temperature controls. Ground beef is being used as an example, but similar conditions would apply to steaks, chops and roasts from other meat types. Read More [PDF]

  • Statements from Scientists Concerning the Safety and Quality of Low Oxygen Modified Atmosphere Packaging with Carbon Monoxide

    The risk of a significant food safety hazard occurring in meat packaged using this low-oxygen carbon monoxide modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technology does not change when this technology is compared to conventional retail meat wrap technologies. Read More [PDF]


Production and Processing

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  • Antibiotic Use in Livestock Production: Ensuring Animal Health

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates drugs, including antibiotics administered to animals that produce food. FDA has extensive guidelines about how antibiotics must be used to ensure safety for both people and animals. All antibiotics used to keep animals healthy have been evaluated through a rigorous approval process, have been shown to be safe and effective and have been reviewed for their potential to cause increased antibiotic resistance. Consumers can be confident that this process ensures the safest meat in the world ends up on America’s dinner tables. Read More [PDF]

  • Corn-Fed Versus Grass-Fed Beef

    All cattle are grass fed, but some cattle are fed a diet that includes corn for part of their lives. Grain-fed or “corn-fed” beef is the most widely produced type of beef in the United States. It is a product prized around the world for its highly-marbled cuts that are especially tender and juicy. Read More [PDF]

  • Growth Promotants in Meat Production

    The meat industry uses certain growth promotants to help provide consumers with a wholesome, affordable and increasingly healthful meat supply. Like other technologies currently used by the U.S. meat industry, the use of growth promotants is backed by an overwhelming body of scientific evidence proving its safety and effectiveness. Read More [PDF]

  • Meat Derived by Advanced Meat Recovery

    Advanced meat recovery (AMR) is a technology in place in some meat plants that uses a special machine to remove meat from beef and pork bones. Just as fruit processors use machines to remove fruit from peels thoroughly and efficiently, meat companies use similar equipment to remove meat from some hard to trim bones. Read More [PDF]

  • Lean Finely Textured Beef - Questions and Answers

    Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is a category of beef products that uses high-technology food processing equipment to separate lean meat from fat because doing it by hand would be impossible. LFTB products prevent the waste of valuable, lean, nutritious, safe, beef by using technology to do what hands cannot. Unfortunately, recent media reports and so-called “reality” shows have raised concerns about the product without the benefit of facts from those that produce or use it. These questions and answers aim to provide the facts. Read More [PDF]

  • Lean, Finely Textured Beef - USDA

    USDA has two primary roles regarding this issue: to ensure that meat and poultry products are safe for consumption and to purchase a limited amount of food for our nation’s schools. Read More [PDF]

  • Lean Finely Textured Beef Glossary of Terms

    Throughout the extensive coverage of lean finely textured beef (LFTB), journalists have often used incorrect terms to describe the product, how it’s made and its role in the beef supply. This guide is a quick reference for use when covering news related to LFTB. The United States Department of Agriculture defines LFTB as beef. For that reason, terms such as filler, binder, additive or ingredient are not accurate when describing LFTB in the context of adding it to ground beef. Read More [PDF]

  • Mechanically Tenderized Meats - Questions and Answers

    Tender meat is prized by consumers. The simple act of breaking muscle fibers makes the meat more tender. An animal’s age, genetic background, the degree of marbling in meat and other factors all can make meat more or less tender. Because tender meat is valued by consumers, meat companies sometimes use tenderization techniques to ensure a good eating experience. Read More [PDF]

  • Organic and Natural Meat Products

    Organic meat and poultry products are a small but growing category of products. Consumer demand for organic foods has grown steadily since the coining of the term by J.I. Rodale, a Pennsylvania farmer, in 1942. To meet that growing demand, manufacturers have developed and marketed organic products and retail markets specializing in organic products have developed and are thriving. Read More [PDF]

  • Transglutaminase Facts

    Information circulating on the Internet has raised questions about something called transglutaminase or “TG,” which some have mischaracterized as “meat glue.” Below are questions and answers aimed at clarifying why TG is used, how it is labeled and why it is safe. Read More [PDF]

  • Transglutaminase and Beef Fibrin: Facts, Figures & Falsehoods

    Information circulating on the Internet has raised questions about something called transglutaminase or “TG,” which some have mischaracterized as “meat glue.” Below are questions and answers aimed at clarifying why TG is used, how it is labeled and why it is safe. Read More [PDF]


WORKER SAFETY

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  • Line Speeds in Meat and Poultry Plants

    Like all manufacturing industries, the meat and poultry industry strives for maximum operating efficiency and productivity. Among other things, this requires that production lines be operated at speeds that optimize quality and volume for the labor input expended. Read More [PDF]

  • Worker Safety in the Meat and Poultry Industry

    The meat and poultry industry’s commitment to improving worker and workplace safety is reflected in the significant and consistent decline in illness and injury rates among its 500,000 workers for the past two decades. While the meat and poultry industry remains relatively labor intensive, workers currently enjoy significantly improved safety conditions, with a steady trend of continuous improvement. Read More [PDF]