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Industry calls for rethink on risk-based inspections

by 5m Editor
9 March 2007, at 10:59am

US - The move to a risk-based inspection system could jeopardize consumer confidence in the safety of meat and poultry, according to an industry organisation.

The shift in strategy means processors with poor food safety standards will face tougher and more frequent inspections. Those that have good records could see the number cut.

In a statement about the recently announced program, the American Meat Institute (AMI) says the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving too quickly to implement the system.

The USDA needs to make participation in prototype program voluntary, the AMI said.

A carefully constructed risk-based inspection system has the potential to improve food safety, AMI president Patrick Boyle.

"However, key constituents like inspectors, consumers and industry are unclear about precisely how this program will work and therefore have significant concerns," he said. "USDA is forcing 250 plants that produce branded, trusted meat and poultry products into a new and already controversial program with little notice or buy-in. This approach could threaten consumer confidence in these companies and their products after a decade of dramatic food safety enhancements. "

Previous efforts to pilot test new approaches to meat and poultry inspection have always been done with the voluntary participation of meat and poultry plants, the industry body said.

Boyle urged the USDA to slow the process down, solicit additional input and make participation voluntary.

Source: Food Production Daily

5m Editor