AMI Tells Congress That Meat and
Poultry Industry Has Made Great Food Safety Gains and Continues to
of Article: http://www.meatami.com/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/48943
April 23, 2009
(American Meat Institute)
The meat and poultry industry is continuously
working to improve the food safety profile of its products and has made
great progress in recent years, according to AMI President and CEO J.
Patrick Boyle, who today testified today before the House Committee on
Agriculture, Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.
“We all know that food safety has been in the news
and because of that publicity a common refrain heard in Washington and
other venues is that the U.S. food safety regulatory system is broken and
has failed the American people,” Boyle testified. “Indeed, a great
deal of attention has been devoted to what is wrong and the changes
needed to assure us that the food we consume is safe. Although some
of the criticism may be warranted, a closer look at our meat and poultry
food safety systems yields a different conclusion,” he said.
Boyle told the Subcommittee that both pathogenic
bacteria on meat and poultry products and associated foodborne illnesses
have declined markedly in the last decade. Since 2000, the industry
has reduced the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef by 45
percent to less than one-half percent. The prevalence of Listeria
monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products has been reduced by 74 percent
to less than 0.4 percent. Similar improvements in the incidence of
foodborne illness have also been reported by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). In that regard, since 2000, illnesses
caused by E. coli O157:H7 are down by 40 percent and listeriosis
is down by 10 percent with much of the improvement occurring before
Further, CDC data show that illnesses from
pathogens most commonly associated with meat and poultry comprise a
fraction of the total foodborne illnesses and deaths in the U.S.
When it comes to oversight, Boyle said that the
meat and poultry industry supports a strong federal inspection system
like the one in place at USDA. He told the committee that the
approximately 8,000 employees of USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service
(FSIS) inspect approximately 6,300 domestic meat and poultry operations
and an additional 2,000 federal employees provide supervision and support
services, at a total cost of more than one billion dollars. Plants
processing live animals are inspected during all hours the plant is operating.
Plants that further process meat and poultry products are inspected at
Boyle added that the meat and poultry industry has
been a strong advocate of a preventative approach and in fact petitioned
USDA to mandate Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP ) plans
in and meat and poultry plants. That requirement took effect a decade ago
and has helped enhance meat and poultry safety.
“We have a strong meat and poultry inspection
system, but it’s important to recognize only the industry can produce
safe food,” Boyle said. “While food processors and handlers can
minimize risks through the use of good management practices, we cannot
guarantee with absolute certainty that all food products are free from
all risks. But progress continues to be made,” he told the committee.
concluded his remarks by noting that “it is indisputable that producing
safe food is good for customers and good for business. To that end,
the meat and poultry industry has been working to meet the challenge of
continuously improving the safety of the products produced.
Industry pledges to cooperate with all parties to ensure that the U.S.
maintains the safest meat and poultry supply in the world.”
view a copy of Boyle’s submitted testimony in its entirety, click here: http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/48885
see the slides that accompany Boyle’s remarks, including relevant charts,
click here: http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/48924