We want to thank the NMA for the opportunity to speak with its membership again this year. We also want to thank those of you who have shown their continued support of BPI over the last several months and let you know what we plan to do to keep earning that support going forward. From BPI, we’ve told you to expect a higher standard. We require it of ourselves and will reinforce that here today.

There have been some questions regarding BPI, our products, and processes that have resulted from inaccuracies in recent media coverage. While it is tempting to take issue with each misstatement or any information not provided in proper context, we need to avoid that temptation and instead be focused on continuing to achieve and exceed the standards we have set for ourselves.

BPI’s lean beef remains a high quality and lower fat component for ground beef or any other product where lean beef is an ingredient. We remain very confident in our food safety systems and in particular the pH enhancement process. But, regardless of how many validation studies we conduct on the process, we know that the proof is in the finished products that we produce. That’s why we have always been strong advocates of a rigorous, finished product sampling and test and hold system. No matter how sure we are of the technology, we will remain committed to supporting the technology with the testing data provided by the test and hold system.

We recognize that we have not been perfect. No one is or will be. Again, that is why we remain committed to a rigorous finished product sampling, test and hold program. Depending upon serving size, BPI products have been a part of up to 20 Billion meals per year. We have not been the source of any illness outbreak or death because of our food safety systems, including our test and hold program.

We have committed ourselves to be the best and will work to continue earning everyone’s confidence and trust in BPI. One way we intend to do that is by being completely open to everyone in terms of BPI’s finished product test results. To borrow a popular term these days – we will be transparent with the results from our operations.

We intend to put in place a system that will allow everyone to have access to BPI test data for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella at virtually the same time that data comes to BPI from the third party, fully accredited laboratories that conduct testing of BPI’s products. We envision a reporting system that will allow the data to come directly from the labs and be viewable on BPI’s web site. Not only do we intend for the data to be viewable, but we also intend for the data to be independently verified and audited.

To have the credibility that such a reporting system will require, we know that we will have to be open to third party review, verification, and audit of BPI’s sample collection processes, third party lab analytical processes, and the data reporting process itself. We encourage anyone interested in providing input into the design of that audit process to engage with us and help us put in place a system that is above reproach. In particular, that includes anyone that has been critical of BPI in the past. Give us your ideas so that we can provide you the data you can rely upon in evaluating BPI.

What will BPI data reporting do for NMA’s members, BPI, and the public generally? First, it will justify the trust and confidence you have placed in BPI or allow skeptics to gain that same level of trust and confidence in what we do. Second, it will reinforce to those that rely upon you to make good food safety decisions that use of BPI’s products is the right decision. Third, such information may allow for a broader public review and dialogue on attainable food safety results and standards. And, finally, it will help us to keep the pressure on ourselves to set and achieve the highest standards possible.

Improved food safety and nutrition are the pillars upon which BPI has been built. We pledge to continue our efforts going forward to support and enhance these goals for the benefit of the consumer, our customers, and the industry.