AMI Tells Canadian House of Commons That
Meat and Poultry Industry Has Made Great Food Safety Progress
of Article: http://www.meatami.com/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/50299
meat and poultry industry has made great food safety progress in recent
years and continues to strive to improve, according to AMI Executive Vice
President James Hodges, who yesterday testified before the Canadian House
of Commons Subcommittee on Food Safety of the Standing Committee of
Agriculture and Agri-Food. The subcommittee was formed to review food
safety programs following a listeriosis outbreak in Canada last
common refrain heard in Washington, Ottawa and other venues is that our food
safety regulatory systems are broken,” Hodges testified. “Although
some criticism may be warranted, a closer look at our meat and poultry food
safety systems, at least from a U.S. perspective, yields a different
conclusion,” he said.
told the Subcommittee that illnesses associated with meat and poultry
consumption have declined, with nearly one billion meals being consumed
each day in the United States without incident.
it comes to oversight, Hodges said that the meat and poultry industry
supports and incorporates a strong federal inspection system. 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.
added that federal law requires a foreign country’s inspection system to be
equivalent to the U.S. system. Currently, 33 countries, including Canada,
the United States’ largest trading partner, are approved to ship products
to the U.S.
also noted 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.
Canada and the U.S. have strong federal meat and poultry inspection
systems, but it is important to recognize only the industry can produce
safe food,” Hodges said. “Although food processors and handlers can and
must minimize risks, there can be no absolute certainty that all food
products are free from all risks. Notwithstanding that caveat, progress has
and is being made.”
U.S. government data show a decline in pathogen prevalence on meat and
poultry products. 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 meat and poultry products has been reduced by 74 percent to
less than 0.4 percent. The Centers for Disease Control has
reported by similar progress in reducing foodborne illnesses. Since
2000, illnesses caused by E. coli O157:H7 are down by 40 percent and
listeriosis is down by 10 percent.
offered a number of suggestions to further improve food safety. “Science
and scientific facts should be the foundation for establishing a food
safety system that has public health protection as its goal.
Government has the responsibility to set food safety standards that provide
an appropriate level of public health protection,” he said. “Industry has a
responsibility to produce safe food that meet or exceed government food
safety standards. Caution should be exercised, however, that
government food safety standards do not stifle innovation and continuous
improvement by being overly prescriptive in defining how food safety goals
should be met.”
view a copy of Hodges’ submitted testimony in its entirety, click here: http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/50276