New Act Aims to Modernise US Meat Safety Inspection

US - A new act has been introduced that aims to reduce foodborne outbreaks and strengthen the nation's food industry.
calendar icon 13 September 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, chairwoman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security, has introduced the Safe Meat and Poultry Act. The Act would reduce the number of foodborne outbreaks and strengthen the country’s agriculture and food industry by updating the nation’s dated meat and poultry inspection and consumer notification system.

The new act follows on the heels of a Government Accountable Office (GAO) report, which found that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was moving forward with an expanded poultry pilot without proper data collection and evaluation.

Senator Gillibrand said: “As I cook dinner for my family most nights, I want to know what I am serving is safe for my children to eat. This legislation contains practical measures to ensure no American gambles with their health when purchasing poultry or meat product. Not only would we reduce foodborne illness, but we also strengthen our nation’s agriculture and food industry.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans will suffer from a foodborne illness every year and of the 128,000 Americans each year that are hospitalised with a foodborne illness, 3,000 die. Furthermore, this year, the CDC reported that no progress has been made in reducing the number of Salmonella outbreaks.

The nation’s economy is also impacted by pathogen outbreaks. The Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida estimates the annual public health and economic costs of foodborne illness in the US to be over $14 billion annually for just the top 14 pathogens. In addition, each year, the meat and poultry industry loses over $500 million due to recalled products.

The high number of outbreaks and significant personal and financial toll that follows is, in large part, caused by the inability to upgrade the food safety legislation at the USDA since 1906.

Senator Gillibrand’s Safe Meat and Poultry Act would decrease pathogens, protects whistleblowers that report public health issues, and improve customer notification process.

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