New USDA requirement aimed at reducing food recalls and improving public safety

On April 5, 2011, the USDA proposed a new requirement for the meat and poultry industries aimed at reducing the amount of unsafe foods that reach consumers. With the enactment of this requirement, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would have the power to restrict products from commerce until FSIS test results are received.

The FSIS currently requests that products sampled for testing be held until the dispositions of test results are received, but the agency has no authority to require this action.

“While many establishments have similar policies already in place, this proposed requirement will allow government to provide an additional safeguard to ensure food safety,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Meat and poultry products will be prevented from reaching consumers until our inspectors have the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate test results. This approach will help us enhance protection of the food supply, reduce recalls, and ensure that all consumers are getting the safest food possible.”

The FSIS believes that 44 of the most serious recalls between 2007 and 2009 might have been prevented, had the requirement been in place.

“We believe this will result in fewer products with dangerous pathogens reaching store shelves and dinner tables,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “In addition, by testing and holding at US points-of-entry, FSIS will also strengthen safety efforts focused on imported food – offering an additional safeguard to American consumers.”

Download the proposed requirement here: