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Statement of the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Assocation, National Turkey Federation and National Chicken Council on the Safety of U.S. Meat and Poultry

Thursday, March 14, 2002

U.S. meat and poultry is safe and getting safer every day. Stringent government oversight of meat and poultry processing, coupled with state-of-the-art food safety technologies, work together to create products that set the gold standard worldwide.

Sadly, protests like the one we witnessed today are more about politics than food safety enhancement. Research shows that consumers remain extremely confident in the safety of meat and poultry. This confidence is based on personal experience: U.S. meat and poultry has a track record of being safe, wholesome and widely consumed sources of good nutrition.

Meat and poultry plants today are more "high tech" than they ever have been, employing technologies like steam pasteurization cabinets that pasteurize the outside of carcasses, special hot water washes, organic acid rinses, irradiation and other techniques that have made our products cleaner and safer than at any point in history.

Livestock and poultry producers are partners in the efforts to make meat and poultry safe from farm to table. These producers employ a variety of new husbandry practices that also are enhancing the health of livestock and poultry and the ultimate safety of meat and poultry.

The continuous presence of USDA inspectors in meat and poultry packing plants - inspectors empowered to take action any time they observe a potential food safety problem - has helped bolster consumer confidence. No other food is regulated and inspected as aggressively as meat and poultry, and producers of these foods earn the seal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture all day every day.

USDA microbiological data show that government and industry efforts are working. All raw meat and poultry by their very nature contain bacteria. But the presence of potentially harmful bacteria is trending downward, as are foodborne illnesses associated with meat and poultry. The facts stand in sharp contrast to the claims made by protesters today.

We expect these positive food safety trends to continue and are committed to earning the trust of the more than 95 percent of Americans who eat our products with confidence every day.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
Josee Daoust
Manager, Public Affairs

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