On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced additional steps to keep the food supply safe for American families in light of the recent investigations of Brazil’s meat industry.
While none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal have shipped meat products to the United States, FSIS immediately instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil upon hearing reports of the Brazilian investigation. FSIS has also increased its examination of all these products at ports-of-entry across the country. The agency will indefinitely maintain its 100% re-inspection and pathogen testing of all lots of FSIS-regulated products imported from Brazil.
“Keeping food safe for American families is our top priority,” said Mike Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “FSIS has strengthened the existing safeguards that protect the American food supply as a precaution and is monitoring the Brazilian government’s investigation closely.”
The FSIS import inspection system (including equivalence determinations, in-country audits, and re-inspection processes) is designed to ensure that imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. FSIS works closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that these products are safe before they enter the country.
“FSIS will take any additional actions necessary to protect public health,” said Al Almanza, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “It is our mission to keep the food on American dinner tables safe.”
Although none of the establishments implicated in the Brazil scandal have shipped meat products to the United States, effective March 18, FSIS instituted 100% point-of-entry re-inspection of all Brazilian beef imported into the United States, including conducting product examination on 100% of the lots. This re-inspection includes 100% testing of beef trimmings from Brazil for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and non-O157 shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). The 100% re-inspection also includes 100% testing of ready-to-eat products from Brazil for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. FSIS will take immediate action to refuse entry of product into the United States if there are findings of food safety concern.
However, not everyone thinks this is an acceptable response following the announcement of widespread corruption in the Brazilian beef packing industry. The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) CEO, Bill Bullard in a YouTube video Friday calls the USDA’s plan woefully inadequate to protect food safety or to protect the U.S. cattle herd from the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease. He further explains why the Brazilian beef scandal highlights the need for Congress and the Administration to immediately reinstate mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL).
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