What is in this article?:
- USDA proposes meat testing mandate to prevent recalls
- The industry responds
A "test and hold" policy would require meat processors to hold beef, pork and poultry until pathogen test results are verified before sending to retailers. The naturals industry supports the proposal but does not anticipate the requirement to impact business.
The US Department of Agriculture, in an effort to curb recalls and reduce consumer illness due to contaminated meat, recently announced a "test and hold" policy which would force meat processors to hold beef, pork and poultry for pathogen testing before sending to grocery stores.
In a statement released April 5, the USDA said that 44 of the most serious food recalls between 2007 and 2009 could have been avoided had this new policy been in place.
"We believe this will result in fewer products with dangerous pathogens reaching store shelves and dinner tables," said Elisabeth Hagen, USDA undersecretary for food safety in a release.
Currently, producers are allowed to introduce meat into the marketplace after testing but before results have been verified. If test results show the meat is contaminated, it's then recalled though in many cases it may already be in consumers' hands.
The Wall Street Journal reports tests can take between 24-48 hours to conduct, which some producers may not believe to be worth the wait.
"A larger producer may be more interested to ship right away, they don't want to hold inventory because inventory is money," said Mack Graves, CEO of Petaluma, Calif.-based Panorama Meats, which sells organic beef from Wyoming’s Arapaho Indian ranch to Whole Foods stores in the Rocky Mountain region."The idea is to get it out of their hands and into the customers as soon as possible."