USDA plans risk-based meat inspection system

first_imgMar 7, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Federal officials recently proposed a timetable to begin implementing a new meat and poultry inspection system designed to reduce foodborne illnesses by focusing more attention on high-risk facilities and those with poor safety records.The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been exploring “risk-based inspection” since 2000. On Feb 22, Richard Raymond, USDA undersecretary for food safety, proposed to implement the new inspection system in April at 30 locations, and possibly to expand it to 150 locations by the end of 2007, according to an FSIS press release.The proposed system is seen as the biggest change in the USDA’s food inspection program since 1996, when the Hazard Analysis and Critical Point Systems (HACCP) rule made food processors responsible for systematically assessing, preventing, and controlling food safety hazards.Assessing each facility’s food safety record and the relative risk of what is produced will allow the FSIS to better allocate its inspection resources to the processors that need them most, while continuing daily inspections at all facilities, the FSIS said in the press release. A processor’s food safety performance will be based on information federal inspectors regularly collect at the plants, such as health infractions and microbiologic test results.”To continue to prevent foodborne illness, we have to improve our prevention capabilities, not just respond quickly after an outbreak occurs,” Raymond said in the press release. “What will change is we will no longer be treating every plant like every other plant in terms of its adverse public health potential.”In a separate statement, Raymond asserted that risk-based inspection “will not reduce the number of inspectors nor will it save any money.”He said the FSIS is rolling out the new inspection program gradually so that it can be evaluated and revised as needed before it is expanded nationwide.Industry and consumer groups have expressed concerns about the new approach. The American Meat Institute (AMI) in a Feb 22 statement said it supports the concept of risk-based inspections, but maintained that the USDA is launching the plan prematurely.J. Patrick Boyle, AMI’s president and chief executive officer, said the USDA should slow the process down, seek additional input, and make participation voluntary. “This rush to launch a potentially worthwhile prototype may become a needless public relations and political distraction,” he said.According to documents posted on the FSIS Web site, the agency held a 2-day stakeholder meeting in October 2006 to solicit input on the proposed risk-based inspection policy.The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) sharply criticized the USDA plan in a Feb 22 statement. Although risk-based system for meat inspection is a worthy goal, the USDA has neither “meaningful scientific data” to rank product risk nor an unbiased system for determining facility risk, the group said. The CFA accused the Bush administration of laying the groundwork for cutting meat inspection costs and thereby increasing Americans’ risk of illness and death from foodborne pathogens.Foodborne disease expert Craig Hedberg, PhD, noted that some groups, including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), have advocated a single federal agency to oversee food safety. He told CIDRAP News that the USDA’s move toward a more periodic, risk-based inspection system that puts the food safety burden on producers is similar to the model used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees produce.”This is probably a necessary condition to change the culture of the USDA toward that of the FDA,” said Hedberg, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “This is one more attempt to make that happen.”Ideally, meat inspectors at processing plants determine if products are handled properly and then intervene if they need to, Hedberg said. “But it doesn’t actually work out that way,” because, while the physical presence of an inspector should give a certain measure of assurance, foodborne pathogens can’t be seen, touched, or smelled, he said. “You have to have different strategies to deal with that.””Industries need more authority to police their own, and I think that’s a good thing,” Hedberg said.See also:Feb 22 FSIS press release statement on the background of risk-based inspection Federation of America statementlast_img read more

Neptune pushes back several project start-up dates despite ‘strong quarter’

first_imgAccording to the company, there has been a limited impact from COVID-19 on operations. However, disruption to the global supply chain has slowed down some project activities. Together with hedging gains, the reduction in operating cash flow is fully mitigated in 2020 by Neptune’s resilience plan and lower expected taxes. The company fully expects to achieve positive free cash flow for the year. Project starts and drilling pushed back “Our project pipeline represents the main area of immediate cost reductions. In addition to the impact of COVID-19 on some of our schedules, we have elected to slow the pace of investment on certain other projects, which will smooth investment across 2020-22”, the report stated. Even though this will result in first production from several projects being pushed back, the overall impact on production is limited, with reduced growth in forecasted company production in 2021 and 2022. Since March 2020, commodity prices moved sharply lower. Neptune stated that, even though it had a high hedge ratio, particularly on gas, earnings and operating cash flows in the near-term were likely to be lower than reported in the first quarter. In its report on Wednesday, Neptune Energy posted 1Q 2020 revenue of $479.7 million, a decrease when compared to the $621.1 million in the same period last year. Due to its strong operating performance and the delivery of the resilience plan, the company expects operating costs to average less than $10/boe for the full year. “We have taken decisive action across the business to increase liquidity and reduce cost while preserving long-term value. We continue to review our business to identify opportunities to reduce operating expenditure further and focus on value over volume. Jim House, CEO of Neptune, said: “Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Neptune’s operational performance in the first quarter of the year was strong. Our resilience plan and hedging activity mitigated weaker commodity prices, resulting in a robust financial performance. The development capex guidance for the year is also reduced to $700-800 million and the exploration spend is expected to be around $125 million. “The second quarter of the year is likely to be more challenging and we expect production to be lower, reflecting planned maintenance and development-related shutdowns and weaker commodity prices”. The company’s profit before taxes for the quarter amounted to $118.4 million compared to a profit of $206.6 million in 1Q2019. As previously guided, the Merakes field is expected onstream in mid-2021. The P1 Gjøa project is largely unaffected. Profit & revenues down center_img The company’s full-year production guidance remains unchanged at 145-160 kboepd and includes the expected impact of mandatory production cuts imposed in Norway, the withdrawal from the Energean transaction, and a focus on value over volume. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and weaker commodity prices, Neptune Energy had a strong first quarter but still decided to push back several project start dates to smoothen investments through 2020-2022. Neptune’s net profit totalled $47 million in the first quarter of 2020 versus a $52.7 profit in the same quarter in 2019. Since the end of the quarter, the Touat plant in Algeria reached plateau capacity and project handover is being finalised. First production from the Njord and Duva projects is now expected to occur in the second half of 2021, with Fenja due onstream in early 2022. Start of oil production from the Seagull project is likely to be deferred until late 2022. After a strong start to 2020, Neptune expects production to be lower in the second quarter reflecting planned maintenance and development related shutdowns, partially offset by higher production at Touat and the Netherlands. The company also opted to defer several wells into 2021 and the only two wells remaining in 2020 are the Sillimanite South and Dugong exploration wells. Neptune said in its first quarter report on Wednesday that its production for the period averaged 162.1 kboepd, above its full-year guidance range. While the weakness in commodity prices is a significant challenge for the oil and gas industry, Neptune stated that it was well-positioned, with significant available liquidity, low operating costs and high levels of hedging. To protect its balance sheet, Neptune previously announced cost reduction measures of $300-400 million for 2020 across operating costs, G&A, and capex. To remind, Neptune recently terminated the agreement to acquire Edison E&P’s UK and Norwegian subsidiaries from Energean to enhance near-term liquidity by around $460 million and focus on its project pipeline. Lower output ahead last_img read more

Music school still looking for new practice facility

first_imgWhen administrators announced in November that the Von KleinSmid Library would remain a library and not be converted into music practice rooms as planned, most students celebrated.The right notes · Xian Zhuo, a senior majoring in cello performance, practices in the PIC building, which is slated for demolition this year. – Roland Wiryawan | Daily Trojan But music students who had been eager to move into the new location were disappointed and, three months later, still do not know where they will be practicing come fall.“We were all excited to get a new building,” said Daniel Weidlein, a sophomore majoring in jazz studies. “It seems like the entire music school kind of gets pushed off to the side when anyone wants something.”The Thornton School of Music’s practice facility, the Music Practice and Instructional Center, is slated for demolition. The school had planned to move the practice rooms to the VKC facility, but administrators revoked the decision within a week of the announcement after staff and students petitioned to save the library.Since then, the school has been searching for another option but with little success. According to Thornton Dean Robert Cutietta, several locations have been suggested, but all of the ideas have been vetoed because of physical constraints.“Everything has to be soundproof, so finding places is difficult,” Cutietta said. “That’s why VKC was one of the first places to look at because it’s in the basement.”PIC, which is located between Cromwell Field and the Intramural Sports Field, currently houses Thornton’s music practice rooms in addition to the jazz studies program, Thornton student advisement offices, a music computer lab and several other instrument labs.Music students are still using the facility while the university searches for a new space, but many say the space is cramped and the number of practice rooms is insufficient.“There’s too many music students for the number of practice rooms,” said Amber Navran, a sophomore majoring in jazz studies. “When it’s sunny, we can practice outside, but for piano majors what are you supposed to do?”Robert Cooper, vice provost for planning and budget, said the university is working with Thornton to resolve the problem.“We’re looking at options, and we’re trying to figure out the best solution for the school,” Cooper said.Like many universities, the campus is in a “space crunch,” Cooper said, and with the huge campus center project in the middle of the university, “it’s a really complicated issue.”Cutietta has big dreams for the music school but said at this point he simply wants to find a solution.“I’d love to tear down all the music buildings and build an entire new music complex,” Cutietta said. “That’s a dream.”Students are also dreaming of new facilities with more practice rooms, newer technology and more collaborative working spaces.“I hope we move to a location that is convenient for all of the students, said Marcus Petitt, a freshman majoring in music industry.Ideally, Petitt said, the move would also involve an upgrade in technology and resources.The university hopes to have a decision about where they will move the music practice rooms by the end of March. Cooper said it is more likely they will move into a renovated space than into a brand new building.Right now, though, the situation is changing constantly and students have expressed some frustration.“It hasn’t been handled well because nobody knows what’s going on,” Weidlein said.Cutietta said he will tell students as soon as any progress has been made, but currently the situation is too unstable.“This has literally changed by the hour this whole semester,” Cutietta said. “As soon as we have something concrete, I’ll be sure to tell them.”“I’d like to have this resolved, I’d like to know what’s going to happen,” he added.The school has sent out e-mails to update students about all major decisions, but students are unsure about the progress of the situation.One music student said he heard that PIC would become a welcome center for the football team. Another said he heard that PIC would be torn down and the Intramural Field would be extended.Cutietta thinks two things are driving the rumors.“The building we’re in is old and needs some major work,” Cutietta said. “And the university has wanted for a long time to do something with that area for athletics.”Students said they believe the plan to convert PIC into an athletic building makes sense because of its location. But without the building, the students have no other space to practice their music.“Just like scientists need laboratories, we as musicians need spaces to practice our music,” Petitt said.Though students are worried about the future of their practice facilities, Cutietta emphasized that they will never be left without facilities.“I wouldn’t be sleeping at night,” Cutietta said. “There is a solution, but we just have to find it.”last_img read more