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USDA Announces Plan to List Retail Stores Receiving Recalled Meat and Poultry Products; AMI Voices Opposition, Cites Public Confusion

Friday, July 11, 2008

(American Meat Institute)

USDA will list retail stores receiving meat and poultry products involved in Class I recalls, beginning next month, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer announced today.  The rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which will occur next week.  

 AMI released a statement expressing strong opposition to the move, saying that the Institute supports providing information that consumers will find useful in determining whether they have a recalled product.  “The most accurate way to make this determination is to rely upon product identifiers like code dates, plant numbers and brands announced by recalling companies,” said Mark Dopp, AMI’s senior vice president, regulatory affairs and general counsel. 

Dopp stated that “although this rule seems consumer-friendly on its face, it has the potential to mislead and confuse consumers.”  He explained that during recalls, product distribution information can expand over time.  “A meat company may have sold a product to ten distributors, and each of those distributors may have sold some of the product to ten brokers and each of those brokers may have sold products to 20 retail stores,” he noted.  “This complex shipping information is compiled and updated over time.  It is not typically available in a complete form when a recall is announced,” he said.

The announced rule is flawed, Dopp stated, because “if a consumer sees an early version of a list of businesses that received recalled product, that consumer may conclude that he could not have purchased the product,” he explained.   “Three days later, the consumer’s local grocery store may appear on the list, but the consumer is unlikely to check the list again and may consume recalled products,” he added.

For a link to the USDA press release, click here:  http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2008/07/0183.xml

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