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John Munsell

John Munsell

John Munsell ran a USDA-inspected meat plant for 34 years, which had been in the family for 59 years. Raised in Miles City, Montana and educated at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, John returned to the family business subsequent to employment at Continental Oil and Target Stores. Having sold the business in 2005, John subsequently opened a deli/bakery at a local retail grocery store, and is currently employed by Miles Community College as a Biofuels/Renewable Energy Coordinator. Married, with two daughters and six grandchildren, John’s passionate focus has been to reveal institutionalized shortcomings in USDA’s deregulated meat inspection program, and to protect the rights of small plants to remain in business in the absence of unethical government enforcement actions.

Articles Written by John Munsell

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Check Murano’s record again before naming Ag Secretary


I am writing this in response to the article appearing in Food Safety News on Dec. 27 regarding Elsa Murano’s being considered for Secretary of Agriculture. The article refers to Murano’s previous service as the USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) from 2001-2004. Prior to Murano’s arrival at FSIS, every USDA-inspected plant… Continue Reading

A Turning Point for E. Coli Testing?

We just might be witnessing a watershed change in USDA attitudes regarding testing for E. coli O157:H7, corrective actions subsequent to adverse lab test results, and tracebacks to the true source of contamination.   Due diligence must be addressed these next 12 months to monitor USDA/FSIS’ willingness to implement meaningful reforms as suggested by the… Continue Reading

Why Do Beef Trimmings Need to be Sanitized?

A central focus in the controversy over the use of ammoniated hydroxide to sanitize beef trimmings are the claims that the source meat may be highly pathogenic, otherwise destined for dog food or laced with dangerous bacteria. So why would the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) publicly state that beef trimmings… Continue Reading

Does High Risk Meat Get USDA Endorsement?

On February 2, I wrote a commentary that appeared on Food Safety News entitled “USDA Inspected and Approved High-Risk Meat.”  One sentence in the editorial stated “USDA has concluded that Hannaford’s high risk practices likely led to this outbreak,” a reference to Salmonella infections linked to supermarket ground beef. Investigators were unable to trace the… Continue Reading

USDA Inspected and Approved High-Risk Meat

The Hannaford chain of grocery stores in the Northeast recently recalled ground beef products which were laced with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella. Like most other retail chains, Hannafords purchases all its meat from outside source slaughter plants.  Salmonella and E. coli are  “enteric” bacterium, which is defined as originating from within animals’ intestines, and… Continue Reading

Will Closing 5 FSIS Offices Impact Food Safety?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it would close 5 of its 15 Food Safety and Inspection (FSIS) District Offices as part of a consolidation that will decrease the agency’s budget and save taxpayer dollars. This financially prudent move prompted Andrew Lorenz, deputy district manager of the agency’s office in Minneapolis, one of… Continue Reading

Tracebacks and USDA: Mutually Exclusive?

On Aug. 3, 2011, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave a speech in Milwaukee that included the following statement: “In 90 days, I expect the agency [FSIS] to announce the first step in transforming our traceback policy”. The USDA”s Food Safety and Inspection Service announcement is now six weeks overdue, and the agency has yet… Continue Reading

Should FSIS Publish Plant Inspection Reports?

The National Research Council (NRC) recently suggested that FSIS release of establishment-specific data could benefit food safety.  Pertinent excerpts of media reports include the following statements: “Substantial benefits can be gained by publicly posting (a) enforcement data from reports written by inspectors, and (b) testing data from standard laboratory tests.”  “The report comes in light… Continue Reading