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Meat Industry is Making Great Strides in Improving Food Safety, Boyle Tells New York Times

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

(American Meat Institute)

The meat industry has made great strides in improving the safety of its products, with the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 declining 45 percent since 2000 to rate of less than one half of one percent, says AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle in a letter to the editor published today in the New York Times.

The letter was sent to the Times in response to a lengthy one-sided article on ground beef safety by investigative reporter Michael Moss that ran on October 4 ("Woman's Shattered Life Shows Ground Beef Inspection Flaws"). Despite meeting with Moss in person for 90 minutes in June and subsequently exchanging more than 15 emails and phone calls to respond to follow-up questions, the 5,000 word story excluded all meaningful government data provided regarding the industry’s food safety accomplishments over the last 10 years.

Boyle notes that AMI and its members have worked aggressively to develop new technologies and processes to enhance meat and poultry safety.  “Using them requires prior approval by the Department of Agriculture. For example, AMI submitted a petition five years ago to use carcass irradiation — a process to reduce or eliminate pathogens like E. coli — but we are still waiting for the department to initiate a rulemaking on its efficacy,” Boyle explained.

 “The meat industry has a single-mindedness when it comes to E. coli O157:H7 — we want to eliminate it. But like other facts of nature — from floods to the flu — even when there is a will, there may not always be a way to do it 100 percent of the time. Be assured that the industry will not stop trying,” Boyle concluded.

To view Boyle’s letter click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/53905

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