Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Senate Bill Would Update Meat and Poultry Inspection

Following concerns raised earlier this week about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s poultry-inspection pilot program, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill Thursday to update meat and poultry inspection, along with the consumer-notification system for recalls.

The 73-page “Safe Meat and Poultry Act” aims to better protect consumers against foodborne illnesses.

Gillibrand claims that the high number of outbreaks is partially due to outdated food-safety regulations at USDA. As the bill states, “the Federal Meat Inspection Act was first enacted in 1907, the Poultry Products Inspection Act was first enacted in 1957, and the last substantial amendment to those laws occurred 44 years [ago].”

“Federal food safety standard setting, inspection, enforcement, and research efforts should be based on the best available science and public health considerations, and food safety resources should be deployed in ways that most effectively prevent foodborne illness,” the bill states.

Specifically, Gillibrand’s bill seeks to:

  • Create mandatory pathogen reduction performance standards and expand the authority of USDA to regulate new pathogens, which will make progress toward targeting and reducing dangerous pathogens in the meat and poultry supply.
  • Improve consumer notification for recalls of contaminated products.
  • Provide whistleblower protection for government and private workers in the food industry to report public-health issues and support a more resilient agriculture industry.
  • Provide better enforcement penalties, including criminal penalties, for intentionally putting unsafe products in the marketplace, and escalating enforcement action for the few bad actors who have a repeated history of serious failures to ensure food safety.
  • Safeguard our borders from unsafe or adulterated foreign meat and poultry products by ensuring regular international audits by the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
  • Increase the emphasis on prevention throughout the entire food-safety system, including for pathogens, chemical residues and potential contamination.
  • Improve consideration given to occupational health and safety to support a safe and sustainable environment in which wholesome products can be produced, inspected and passed.

Gillibrand chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security, and championed the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2011. Two years ago, she introduced the Foodborne Illness Reduction Act of 2011 with the aim of similarly modernizing USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, but the bill died in committee.

© Food Safety News
  • John Munsell

    “Intentionally putting unsafe products in the marketplace” is a laudable goal, but will be difficult to prove. Realizing the enormous output at plants which kill thousands of beef daily, there will always be some bacteria which slip through the cracks……..unintentionally.
    Increasing the emphasis on PREVENTION is common sense. FSIS should be doing this as a matter of practice, and should not have to be forced to accept & implement prevention via legislative mandates. To Dr. Elisabeth Hagen’s credit, she listed prevention as one of her top 3 goals in the very first public speech she gave as USDA Under Sec. Since then, both she & Administrator Al Almanza have made frequent references to the need for Prevention. This constitutes a remarkable FSIS breakthrough, because the agency has historically assessed the need for prevention and corrective actions downstream, at the DESTINATION of previously-contaminated meat. Restaurants, retail meat markets, and further processing plants have historically been blamed for their allegedly faulty HACCP Plans when contaminated meat is detected on their premises. Thus, Senator Gillibrand is spot on with her emphasis on Prevention, which should be focused on the SOURCE of contamination, not the DESTINATION of contaminated meat. Hard to accomplish however, since FSIS is more comfortable initiating enforcement actions against small downstream plants, rather than at the huge source slaughter plants.
    John Munsell

  • neicey22

    IMO, Go vegan! It’s what they deserve! People need to give up their blood lusting and rise above the bottom dwellers. It’s the ultimate pay back!