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USDA's Current Sampling Program for E. coli O157:H7 Coupled With In-Plant Food Safety Technologies Target and Destroy All E. coli

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Washington, DC – Sampling ground beef for E. coli O157:H7 as USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) currently does is a good indicator of the presence of other strains of E. coli, said AMI Executive Vice President James H. Hodges today in connection with a public meeting to discuss USDA’s plan announced in September to declare six additional strains of E. coli as adulterants when they are found in raw ground beef products or beef intended for grinding.  USDA will begin testing for these strains in March.

“In-plant food safety technologies do not discriminate;  they destroy all strains of E. coli,” Hodges added.  “USDA is proposing a solution in search of a problem.”

 Hodges said FSIS’s Draft Risk Profile included as part of the policy announcement is “appropriately named” as a “draft” because it is incomplete and includes significant data gaps identified by scientific experts.    Comments from scientific experts included in that profile highlight the knowledge gaps:   

Similarly, the final determination published in the Federal Register by FSIS raises questions about the new policy:

Hodges also cited the absence of an accurate and comprehensive cost estimate for this new policy, saying “given the many questions surrounding both its potential effectiveness and its costs, implementation should be delayed until a more thorough analysis is conducted and more is known” and suggesting that, considering the scientific concerns raised within the Federal Register notice and by expert reviewers in the Risk Profile, spending millions on a policy with little likelihood of improving public health while cutting USDA’s food safety research program is ill-considered.  

To view AMI’s comments, go to http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/74158.



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