NPPC examines food safety requirements

24-04-2009 | |

To be effective, the nation’s food-safety system must have adequate funding and personnel, food-safety policies and procedures based on sound science and a partnership between federal food-safety agencies and food producers, the National Pork Producers Council told a congressional panel.

“Producing safe, wholesome pork products is a continuum that begins on the farm,” NPPC Past President Jill Appell, a pork producer from Altona, Ill., told the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry. “The US pork industry will continue to adopt and adapt practices and programs that improve the safety of our nation’s food supply. But America’s food producers need the federal government to be a partner in this effort.”

She noted that, for the most part, federal food-safety agencies, particularly the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), which oversees the safety of pork and other meat and poultry products, do a good job. But there is room for improvement.

NPPC urged lawmakers to:

• Establish food safety objectives linked to public health outcomes rather than arbitrary targets.
• Improve communication about food safety issues among state and federal public health officials and the food industry.©
• Encourage FSIS veterinarians and inspectors to apply the guidelines for fatigued pigs consistently across the industry.
• Fully fund programs that monitor antimicrobial resistance.
• Require FSIS inspectors to follow current processes and procedures for testing pork for antibiotic residues.
• Base best handling practices and inspections for processing facilities on science.
• Establish, with input from all stakeholders, proportional responses to animal welfare issues that might arise at processing facilities.
• Improve the ability of food-safety agencies to hire and maintain the work force necessary to carry out inspections that ensure the safety of food.

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