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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    US Department of Agriculture monitors meat safety under a system that allows meat processors to design their own food safety plans

    The current system lacks coordination, uniformity and authority. It is understaffed and focused too much on fixing problems instead of preventing them.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors meat safety under a system that allows meat processors to design their own food safety plans. Many in the meat industry have strict guidelines and test meat for pathogens at various stages in the butchering process, but there is no federal requirement for such tests, according to the American Meat Institute.

    USDA inspectors are monitoring compliance with these company-written plans, but the USDA cannot mandate changes in the plans, says Patty Lovera, assistant director of the Washington-based food-safety group, Food and Water Watch.

    USDA inspectors are thinly spread. One inspector was assigned to the Topps Meat Co., which claimed to produce more hamburger patties than any other U.S. plant until it went out of business earlier this month. As you probably remember, Topps folded after the recall of about 22 million pounds of its meat.

    The recall was not ordered by the USDA. The federal regulatory agency doesn't have the authority to order a recall. The company announced the recall 18 days after initial tests showed contamination with the potentially deadly E.coli bacteria.

    The federal inspector assigned to Topps didn't find the E.coli contamination. That discovery was made after dozens of people became ill and the pathogen was traced to Topps.


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