is working but has room for improvement
of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/news/headline_stories.asp?ArticleID=101434
(MEATPOULTRY.com, April 08,
by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
WASHINGTON – Although
it can be improved, the U.S. meat and poultry regulatory and inspection
system is working to ensure safe food, said Jim Hodges, American Meat
Institute executive vice president, while recently addressing the Farm
Foundation in Washington, D.C.
"A common refrain
heard in Washington and other venues is the U.S. food-safety regulatory
system is broken and that it has failed the American people. There is some
truth to that argument, but a closer look at our meat and poultry
food-safety systems may yield a different conclusion," Mr. Hodges
associated with meat and poultry consumption have declined markedly, he
said, given that 1 billion meals are consumed safely each day in the U.S.
Human-illness statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention show the pathogens most commonly associated with meat and
poultry make up only a fraction of the total foodborne illnesses and deaths
in the U.S., he noted.
"I cite these
illness statistics.... to put the risk into context," he said.
"Is the sky falling? No. Still, most rational individuals, including
myself, believe food safety can be improved."
U.S.D.A.’s meat and
poultry inspection system, run by the Food Safety and Inspection Service,
is strong with 8,000 inspectors overseeing approximately 6,300 domestic
meat and poultry operations, Mr. Hodges said. Plants processing animals are
inspected during all hours the plant is operating. Plants preparing meat
and poultry products are inspected at least daily. An additional 2,000
federal employees provide supervision and support services at a total cost
of more than $1 billion dollars.
Steps Mr. Hodges
believes can enhance food safety include:
A focus on government inspection programs
designed and implemented to· protect public health.
Continual improvement of preventive
process-control systems is needed.·
Government agencies must be fully funded
to assure the safety of· domestically produced and imported food is
Resource allocation should be based on the
public health risk posed by a· particular food and the control
measures that are used during the manufacturing and distribution process to
control such risk.
Objective, achievable food-safety
standards scientifically determined to· measure whether the food is safe,
not adulterated and non-injurious to public health, are needed.
During the standard-setting process, the
U.S. must assure compatibility· with internationally recognized
standards such as Codex Alimentarius to protect the health of consumers,
ensure fair trade practices and promote coordination of food-standards
development by the international community.
Efforts should be focused on conducting a
more through analysis to identify· how and why a foodborne disease
Rigorous government inspection and testing
is needed to verify that· consumer-ready products are safe.
Establish a public/private partnership to
design and implement a· comprehensive research program to improve food
safety is needed.