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USDA Responds to AMI Petition By Announcing It Will Mandate Test and Hold, Reports Indicate

Thursday, August 5, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today said that within the next several months, the agency will issue a Federal Register notice announcing that it will withhold the mark of inspection on meat products that are sampled for adulterants until negative results are received, Meatingplace reports.

In a 2009 petition, AMI had urged USDA to take this action. FSIS Assistant Administrator of the Office of Field Operations Kenneth Petersen announced the agency’s plans at the National Meat Association summer conference in Bellevue, Washington.

USDA reportedly will not solicit comments on the new rules, which will go into effect within 30 to 90 days of being posted in the Federal Register. 

Significantly, Petersen said that meat processors will be able to ship the product, but it must remain under a company’s control until the results confirm negative, according to Meatingplace.

For years, AMI has urged industry members to hold tested products pending results and this practice has been widely adopted.  In late October 2009, AMI President J. Patrick Boyle urged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to mandate test and hold, noting that more than 80 percent of the recalls due to the presence of E. coli O157:H7 and all recalls due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes during 2009 could have been prevented if tested products had been held.  

In response to the announcement Boyle said, “We are pleased that USDA has responded affirmatively to AMI’s petition.  While test and hold has become a widespread practice voluntarily, making the procedure mandatory will prevent recalls, further enhance safety and maintain consumer confidence.”


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