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AMI: Meat and Poultry Industry Has Variety of Metrics to Measure Food Safety

Thursday, July 22, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

“The meat and poultry industry has focused efforts to reduce pathogen risk by embracing the hurdle concept of microbiological control,” said American Meat Institute (AMI) Scientific Advisor Andrew Milkowski, Ph.D. in testimony yesterday before the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Stakeholder Public Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.  

AMI noted that while it believes the Department of Health and Human Services’ 2010 goal for a 50 percent reduction in the illness from key foodborne pathogens based on 1997 illness levels has been an excellent starting point, discrepancies exist in reported foodborne illness statistics.  

For example, the data shows poor correlation between pathogen performance standards and human illnesses.  The meat and poultry industry has reduced Salmonella by 64 percent in chickens, 74 percent in pork and 75 percent in ground beef since the performance standards were set, yet human salmonellosis remains virtually unchanged.  Performance standards as a metric to measure food safety have not achieved their intended public health outcome.  AMI said this is an issue that must be resolved.  

In response to the specific questions that have been asked by the CDC, FDA and FSIS, AMI noted the following:

“As much progress as the industry has made in reducing bacteria on meat, we realize there is still more to do,” Milkowski concluded. “Meat is a microbiologically perishable product and there is a critical role for food preparers to play in ensuring food safety.  Safe food handling instructions appear on all raw meat and poultry products and continued education of consumers needs to be maintained with a means to measure consumer handling and preparation practices.” 

To view Milkowski’s submitted testimony, click here: http://bit.ly/au6YaM


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