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Monday, August 8, 2005

Baltimore, MD – Scientific teamwork in the U.S. meat industry combined with efforts to set aside competition and share information for the greater good has yielded real results, according to AMI President J. Patrick Boyle, in a keynote address to the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology.

“Meat scientists have played a pivotal role in harnessing science and technology to produce safer, higher quality and more nutritious meat products,” said AMI President J. Patrick. “It is essential that scientists throughout the industry maintain the team spirit and non-competitive approaches that have yielded real and measurable results.”

Boyle cited progress in meat safety as a study in what is possible. In 2001, the American Meat Institute Board of Directors declared food safety a non-competitive issue. Industry scientists stepped up their collaborative efforts to solve food safety problems. They began developing best practices to tackle industry problems, ranging from how to sanitize equipment most effectively to prevent contamination to how to reduce bacteria during slaughter and fabrication. They also began to share food safety technologies that would have been considered proprietary a decade ago.

“A rising tide raises all boats,” Boyle commented. “Today, we see demonstrable reductions in E. coli O157:H7 on beef products and Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. And we see corresponding reductions in the illnesses associated with these bacteria.” According to CDC, E. coli O157:H7 infections have declined 42 percent since 1996. As a result, the U.S. has reached its public health goal for 2010 six years early. Similarly, listeriosis infections have been nearly cut in half since 1996 and well within striking distance of the 2010 public health goal years ahead of schedule.

“Just as you’ve made products safer than ever before and contributed toward enhancing the public health, you’ve also made them more nutritious and higher quality,” he said.

Boyle also detailed progress in other areas as a result of the non-competitive spirit. He said the red meat packing industry’s efforts to enhance animal welfare are equally remarkable, and that this momentum resulted in the AMI Board of Directors vote that animal welfare should also be a non-competitive issue. He predicted that additional research and continued information exchange will further enhance animal care and handling.

Speaking to the international audience, Boyle also stressed the importance of international adherence to global trading standards. He noted that BSE in the U.S. and Canada has been needlessly disruptive to both nations’ economies with no associated food safety benefit. He said that AMI has urged USDA to take a leadership role in international harmonization and urged ICOMST attendees to support these efforts in the U.S. and in their own nations.

“I urge you to continue to leverage your collective scientific abilities for the good of the industry and of the ultimate consumer,” Boyle said.

“There’s no doubt we have our critics on numerous fronts. Let their criticism not frustrate you. Let it increase your resolve to do what was once thought impossible. I’m confident that your ingenuity will only continue to increase with sustained cooperation among our best and brightest,” he concluded.

For more information contact:
David Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs
Janet Riley
Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs

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