Sixty Percent Fail E. coli Test
By George Anderson
The US Department of Agriculture said yesterday that 60 percent of the nation’s largest meat processing plants “failed to meet federal food safety regulations for preventing a deadly E. coli bacteria in their products.”
Reuters reports the USDA ordered all beef slaughter and grinding plants to reexamine their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems last September. Sixty percent of the 35 plants tested failed to meet federally mandated food safety standards.
Garry McKee, administrator for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said the findings were not cause for alarm. “They were scientific and design issues and not direct food safety issues,” said Mr. McKee.
Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) had another perspective, “USDA promised HACCP would provide significantly safer food to consumers, but companies … have not implemented this effectively for the past five years.”
The Bush administration’s budget calls for $899 million for food safety programs in fiscal 2004. According to Reuters, ” the budget would increase the number of meat inspectors to 7,680 and double the number of E. coli tests at ground beef plants.”
Moderator’s Comment: Do HAACP systems offer sufficient
protection against food contaminants? What needs to be done by processors, retailers
and the government to safeguard the meat supply?
Two words – Irradiated meat. [George
Anderson – Moderator]