US senator Kirster Gillibrand chairwomen of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security, last week introduced legislation aimed at reducing foodborne outbreaks on the back of a Government Accountable Office (GAO) report that criticised the evaluation of poultry pilot projects from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The GAO report highlighted problems with a USDA HACCP- based Inspection Models Project proposal to change the way poultry is inspected, so that the plants could speed up production and move towards risk-based inspections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, one in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness each year, including 128,000 who are hospitalised culminating in 300 deaths. It is estimated that the meat and poultry industries lose US$500 million annually due to recalled products.
The bill includes provisions that would
• Create mandatory pathogen reduction standards and expand USDA’s authority to regulate new pathogens
• Regular international audits by the Food Safety and Inspection Service
• Whistleblower protection for government and private workers in the food industry to report public health issues.
• Improve customer notification for recall of contaminated products
• Safeguard our borders from unsafe or adulterated foreign meat and poultry products by ensuring regular international audits by the Food Safety & Inspection Service.