USDA Says Has Enough Legal Authority To Do Recalls

US - The U.S. Agriculture Department does not need additional authority to conduct meat recalls and would oppose any move to make the removal of such items from the market mandatory, the USDA's top meat safety official told lawmakers on Wednesday.
calendar icon 8 November 2007
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"I believe we have all the legal authority we need to do our job,"

U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond

A series of large recalls in the last few months, attributed mostly to E. coli O157:H7, prompted USDA earlier this year to expand testing and recall infected meat more rapidly to combat the pathogen. This year alone 19 recalls related to E. coli in beef have occurred, compared to just eight in 2006.

USDA regulates about 20 percent of the food supply -- covering eggs, meat and poultry. The Food and Drug Administration covers the rest.

"I think we do a very good job with recalls at this point at time," U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond told a House Agriculture subcommittee on livestock, dairy, and poultry. "I believe we have all the legal authority we need to do our job," he said.

Currently, the industry initiates recalls voluntarily. Raymond said the current process works and any move by lawmakers to make recalls mandatory was unnecessary and risks causing the system to work less efficiently.

Raymond said there are several factors USDA is investigating that could be responsible for the uptick in E. coli discoveries.

Source: Reuters
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