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American Meat Institute, Food Products Association Support U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk-Based Meat and Poultry Inspection Concept

Monday, October 30, 2006

Shifting to a risk-based inspection system will help improve food safety by targeting inspection resources at critical junctures during meat and poultry processing, according to the American Meat Institute (AMI) and the Food Products Association (FPA). The two groups submitted joint comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on October 27, 2006, in response to a call for comments following a recent USDA-sponsored public meeting.

The new risk based inspection (RBI) system is being developed by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and would target inspection resources towards meat and poultry processing establishments where those resources can have the most significant impact in enhancing food safety.

In the comments, the two associations stated that they “strongly support the concept of risk-based inspection,” and applauded the agency for developing the process. However, they suggested that FSIS consider long-term plans to apply RBI over the broader food supply chain continuum from farm to table. Currently, the proposal is focused on risk-based application of resources in meat and poultry processing establishments. The agency is only just beginning to consider how to apply RBI to slaughter operations.

“With the goal of reducing foodborne illnesses caused by meat and poultry products, a risk-based allocation of resources may pay greater dividends when the focus is upstream from the establishment or, more likely, further downstream at institutions, retail establishments and restaurants,” the comments said.

AMI and FPA also encouraged FSIS to use indisputable objective measures in any RBI system to avoid subjective disagreements and provide for the most orderly categorization of establishments for resource allocation purposes. “Recognizing that all stakeholders may not agree on the categorization of establishments regardless of how determinations are made,” the comments note, “it is important that FSIS has a well-defined process for conflict resolution.” They also suggested that the agency ensure that RBI does not adversely affect international trade or the concept of equivalency with trading partners and urged FSIS to keep U.S. trading partners informed about the development of a U.S. RBI inspection system.

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Together, AMI’s members produce 95 percent of the beef, pork, lamb and veal products and 70 percent of the turkey products in the United States. The Institute provides legislative, regulatory, public relations, technical, scientific and educational services to the meat and poultry packing and processing industry.

The Food Products Association is the largest trade association serving the food and beverage industry in the United States and worldwide. FPA’s laboratory centers, scientists and professional staff provide technical and regulatory assistance to member companies and represent the food industry on scientific and public policy issues involving food safety, food defense, nutrition, consumer affairs and international trade.

For more information contact:
Patrick Wilsn
Manager, public affairs
Janet Riley
Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs

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