USDA announces plan to protect consumers from unsafe meat products
December 7th, 2012
07:15 PM ET
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today that 60 days from now producers will for the first time be required to hold shipments of non-intact raw beef and all ready-to-eat products containing meat and poultry until they pass the agency's testing for adulterants that are known to cause food-borne illnesses such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria.

USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said in a statement, "This new policy will reduce food-borne illnesses and the number of recalls by preventing contaminated products from reaching consumers."

According to FSIS estimates, 49 of the 251 meat, poultry and processed egg product recalls occurring between 2007 and 2010 would have been prevented if the new policy was in place. The number of Americans falling ill or dying from contaminated food has increased 44% in the past two years alone, according to a report released recently by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

The new "hold and test" policy was based on public input on a federal register notice placed in April of last year, and Hagan says she hopes it will become a routine practice across the industry. Official establishments and importers of record will be required to maintain control of products tested for adulterants by FSIS and not release to the marketplace until negative test results are received - usually within two days.

The notice will be posted shortly on the FSIS website and once it is published.

Consumer resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration's Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
FDA Food Safety
United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Education

More on food poisoning from CNN Health and all foodborne illness coverage on Eatocracy

Food safety tips from a pro
How sprouts make you sick
What? Chicken butt. Why there's salmonella in your eggs
Tainted food – a sticky situation for airline travelers

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Filed under: Food Safety • Health News • Meat • Recalls • Tainted Food

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. ICStupidppl

    I really think we would do society a much bigger favor and also make the anti-government folks happier if we did the following instead... Make 2 meat counters.
    1. Is FDA inspected
    2. Is not FDA inspected. If you buy this, you relinquish all liability claims against store, FDA, processors etc.

    Let the free market decide and in the process we get a little bit of engineered evolution which most of the anti-government folks don't believe in anyway so it will all be good.

    December 10, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • What?

      There's just one problem with what you propose . . . there would be NOTHING in the "FDA inspected" case.

      The FDA doesn't inspect meat, and never has. The USDA, however, inspects all plants and animals that will – or could – go into interstate commerce.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  2. fiskenmann

    CNN is unable to confirm casualty reports as the government has severely restricted access by international journalists.

    December 10, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  3. jyoungjr

    my only question is how much is this going to raise the cost of the meats? The USDA is going to be funded by tax dollars but the delay in getting the meat out will cost the companies thousands of dollars and that will be passed onto comsumers. We have to find a way to test the meat and streamline its trip to market. the cost of food has gone up enough recently.

    December 10, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Rick

      As a vegetarian, I don't care how much the price of meat increases

      December 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  4. Jorge

    The cut in the picture looks like a piece of bad, greasy, CAFO-bred American beef right there. Overseas, I used to buy inexpensive, lean, field-raised cuts of beef shipped from Argentina and Guatemala for half of what they'd cost in the U.S. Compared with them, that piece of beef in the picture right there isn't fit for dog food. The FDA and USDA are corporate lobby puppets chock-full of future Big Food and Big Pharma CEOs. Don't be fooled, the only thing they want to protect is the silent partner's bottom line.

    December 10, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • What?

      I'll bet you don't even know what cut that is.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  5. Mac

    Cue the right wing crying about government intrusion.

    Personally I like my meat inspected.

    December 10, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  6. jerry

    In Culinary School we learned how much meat we actually inspect. We need to increase funding for food inspection and create laws against feed lots who dump thousands of gallons of cow waste into water sources. Its because of feed lots we're now seeing our veggies being contaminated with E coli, Salmonella and others. Not to mention the amount of antibiodics that are pumped into them so they dont spread diseases in these tight quarters.
    Solution: Look for Range Finished Beef

    December 10, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • darkomni

      Feedlots do not directly affect the crops getting contaminated with e-coli. To be certified as "organic" produce, you cannot use chemical pesticides or fertilizers on crops. To get the necessary nutrients back into the soil for these crops you have to use something, in other words, manure, on the plants to fertilize them. The problem is these crops are not cleaned properly or because an organic field might be sitting next to a non-organic crop and we get cross-contamination with e-coli hitting the non-organic plants.

      Organic foods account for 15% of all food recalls, even though they make up about 5% of total food sales in the US.

      December 10, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • What?

      "In Culinary School we learned how much meat we actually inspect."

      And just 'how much' is that? It would be nice to hear that from an 'authoritative' source.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  7. driranek

    A good step forward, but I'd be more impressed if the FDA required meat producers to label meat from animals that have been given antibiotics, steroids or other hormones, and so on. That should be the role of govt – require that consumers be given accurate and complete information and let the free market decide who succeeds.

    December 10, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • jerry

      Look up Ralgro. Thats the steroid most commonly used for cows. Its a timed release capsule that goes behind the ear.

      December 10, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Person

      You're right about adulterants and antibiotics but you're wrong in implying that the free market can self-regulate e. coli. How's that going to work? So many children and old people die of infections that people stop buying a company's products? I'd prefer inspection and regulation, thank you.

      December 10, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  8. mane

    "The number of Americans falling ill or dying from contaminated food has increased 44% in the past two years alone, according to a report released recently by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group."

    ...And the teathugs want less regulations! Wish the US will let them eat all the recalled meat and vegetables. Give it to them for free. oh, wait. They don't like free stuff. Sell it to them. Less teathugs, a better United States of America.

    December 10, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • What?

      Did you happen to notice how the writer "conveniently" failed to specifically mention exactly what these contaminated foods were? Here's a hint for you – most of it wasn't meat. Pick a fact, throw it in 'out-of-context', and – viola – you have a nice piece of alarmist propaganda.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  9. the light ranger

    wtf ??

    December 10, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  10. Amir Ali

    The south koreans are not buying american cows b/c mad reason that is also raw and mr obamas attachments in america n outside america for his own safety networ

    December 10, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • JWatt

      The South Koreans are also afraid of Fan Death. I wouldn't be to quick to use them as a critique of American product safety.

      December 10, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  11. Amir Ali

    Africa is main source after mr pearl murder mr obama having africans n cows n abhishek for surviving i saw w/ my eyes cows situation they r god creature..

    December 10, 2012 at 2:44 am |
  12. Amir Ali

    Our cow brains having blue lights n most of animal cow looks we using msgs like my mother attachments n chicken slaughtery as well n pak rangers using for jam..

    December 10, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Ray

      whats wrong with you??

      December 10, 2012 at 11:31 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        Makes sense to me.

        When I'm on mushrooms.

        December 10, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Truth™@Amir

      Given the timestamp on your post, I think that is all we need to know...

      December 10, 2012 at 11:34 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫ @ Truth

        Wild Turkey has no bedtime.

        December 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
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