Industry discusses food safety advances in House hearing

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By Lisa M. Keefe on 4/24/2009


Several 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 statements from:

  • 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 Federation

Elliot 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.


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