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New FSIS Drug Residue Policy Harmful to Packers Without Affecting Public Health

Wednesday, September 5, 2001
 

Washington, DC-The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) should take a public health based approach to preventing illegal drug residues in meat instead of leveling economic sanctions against meatpackers, the American Meat Institute (AMI) said in comments filed with the agency today.

AMI's comments addressed a new FSIS notice stating that the meat from any animal whose kidney or liver showed illegal drug residues must be destroyed. Previously, if FSIS found an illegal drug residue in the kidney or liver, it would perform subsequent tests on muscle tissue to determine if they too contained illegal residues. If no illegal residues were detected, the carcass would be processed.

AMI strongly objects to the discontinuation of follow-up tests on muscle tissue, since illegal residues may affect only organs and not muscle meat. Under current FSIS policy, only 6.5 percent of carcasses with violative residue levels in an organ had any residue in the muscle tissue. However, under the FSIS proposed policy, a substantial portion of the remaining carcasses without unacceptable residue levels in the muscle tissue could be condemned merely for having residues in the organs. This would have a significant negative economic impact on meatpackers.

“This notice … will not enhance the public health; it only serves to harm entities that are not responsible for the presence of inappropriate drug residue levels in animals used for food,” the comments stated.

“There is no legitimate reason for FSIS to condemn these carcasses,” said Mark Dopp, AMI's general counsel and senior vice president for regulatory affairs. “AMI members are dedicated to providing safe products to consumers, but this policy does nothing to achieve that goal.”

AMI’s comments also note that the agency’s new policy conflicts with the position of the Codex Alimentarius, a well-respected international food standards and guidelines setting body. Codex has set tolerance levels for drug residues in muscle tissue even where the Food and Drug Administration has not yet established tolerances.

AMI urged FSIS to consider the potential impact this policy will have on the industry, international trade and consumers and ask how the public and industry will benefit from a change in policy.

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.


For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
703-841-2400
jriley@meatinstitute.org
Josee Daoust
Manager, Public Affairs
703-841-2400
jdaoust@meatinstitute.org

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