representatives of the meat processing industry testified Thursday
about advances in food safety, in a hearing convened by the House
Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.
The hearing, to review federal food safety systems at USDA, included
- Alfred V. Almanza,
administrator in the Food Safety and Inspection Service
- J. Patrick Boyle,
president and CEO of the American Meat Institute
- Barry L. Carpenter, CEO
of the National Meat Association
- James "Bo"
Reagan, senior vice president of research, education and
innovation of at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association
- Jill Appell, past
president of the National Pork Producers Council
- Elizabeth A. Kushinskie,
director of quality assurance and food safety for Mountaire Farms
Inc., on behalf of the National Chicken Council
- Michael Rybolt, director,
scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Turkey
P. Gibber, president of Deb-El Foods, also spoke on behalf of United
Egg Association Further Processors Division.
"We all know that food safety has been in the news. … [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, according to a news release from AMI.
"Although some of the criticism may be warranted, a closer look at
our meat and poultry food safety systems yields a different conclusion."
Boyle's testimony was typical of the information provided to
legislators by the industry's representatives at the hearing. He
reminded legislators of the reductions in pathogens that have been
achieved since 2000, and that 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., according to AMI.
Boyle also noted several improvements that the industry would like to
see made reality, including full funding of government agencies,
allocation of resources based on the public health risk posed by a
particular food and the control measures used during the manufacturing
and distribution process to control such risk, and objective and
achievable food safety standards that are scientifically determined to
measure whether the food is safe for human consumption.