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 industry responds
The North American Meat Processors Association issued a statement in support of the USDA's proposal. “We believe that this policy will prevent needless recalls, further ensure food safety, and maintain consumer confidence,” the release read.
The NAMP statement suggested that many large processors already employ a test-and-hold procedure and that the USDA's policy would most impact small producers.
Organic producers, who often work on smaller farms, said they support test and hold but did not believe it would affect business.
"Test and hold is a really basic best practice that we've been doing for years," said Pamela Saunders, quality and industry relations manager for Organic Prairie, the meat division of the La Farge,Wis.-based Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative of several hundred smaller organic producers. "I can't generalize for the rest of the industry, but I will say the traceability requirements for organic really minimizes our risk."
Graves echoed the sentiment. "We believe in test and hold," he said. "People can complain about it but the more assurances that you can give a consumer, why wouldn't you want to do that?"
Similarly, natural retailers said they support the USDA's move, but don't believe the additional requirement will change how they do business.
"If you're selling good, quality meat from reputable sources, you shouldn't have to worry about recalls or disease," said Eli Lesser-Goldsmith owner and general manager of Healthy Living Market in South Burlington, Vt. "I know where my product comes from, that's why my customers buy from me. These food scares don't come from small producers with grass-fed cows. They come from CAFO feed lots and corn-fed cattle."
After a 90 day comment period, the USDA will make any appropriate changes and announce the effective date of the new policy.