New Prevention-Based Food Safety Measures

New Prevention-Based Food Safety Measures

New Prevention-Based Food Safety Measures. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

The USDA is continuing its push into safer food. USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elizabeth Hagen held a press conference yesterday to talk about new prevention-based food safety measures.

HAGEN: As you know under the leadership of Secretary Vilsack one of the key goals of USDA and its public health agency, the Food, Safety and Inspection Service has been to strengthen our ability to protect consumers from foodborne illness. Today we’re announcing several measure that will represent next steps in doing just that by bolstering our prevention based public health safeguards.

She announced a number of key changes including changes to the traceback policies along with three key provisions required by the 2008 Farm Bill as well as guidance to industry for HACCP validation.

HAGEN: The need for effective and reliable traceback methods during the course of an outbreak when people are already sick is obvious but we have the opportunity through the course of our routine sampling work to take this reactive tool and use it more preventively. Under the change in policy we are announcing we intend to launch traceback investigations earlier and identify additional potentially contaminated products sooner when we may have the chance to prevent it from reaching consumers in the first place.

Hagen goes into details on some key issues.

HAGEN: The first is that we’ll be beginning our investigations before routine test results are confirmed positive. Currently our activities begin after a test result is confirmed or when an outbreak occurs. The second of these key issues will be working quickly to link indications of contamination to a sole source whenever possible and determine whether that source material was used by any other processors.

That will require a recall of all source materials.

HAGEN: And the third key issue we’re focusing on with traceback is that we will focus quickly on production conditions during the time of contamination at the plant and on the plants approach to managing what we can high event periods. Strengthening the traceback of raw beef products contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC’s as we call them will improve our ability to precent contaminated products from reaching consumers and to recall products faster.

Finally she discusses three key issues.

HAGEN: The provisions will require all establishments notify FSIS within 24 hours of finding contaminated product in commerce, develop written recall procedures and document the reassessment of their hazard analysis and critical control point or HACCP food safety plans. These three farm bill provisions will improve food safety by adding stronger protection measures before and after products are produced.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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