USDA to Require Warnings for Meat and Poultry Contamination
by Matthew Madia
Mar 26, 2010
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed requiring companies to alert the government if contaminated or mislabeled meat or poultry products escape into the market. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking yesterday. The proposal is open for public comment until May 24.
“If this proposed rule becomes final, the required information concerning the type of product will need to include the product name, any code or lot numbers on the individual packages or cases, and the type and size of the packages.”
If you thought such reporting was already required, you’d be wrong. While selling adulterated meat and poultry products is illegal, withholding information from the FSIS in the event contaminated products enter commerce is not. The proposed rule would not change companies’ incentive structure (the threat of legal action takes care of that) but it would impart a little common sense in order to better enable regulators to prevent unnecessary risks to consumers.
Under the proposed rule, companies would be required to notify FSIS “within 48 hours of learning or determining that an adulterated or misbranded product received by or originating from the establishment has entered commerce.” FSIS is specifically asking commenters whether 48 hours is an appropriate length of time.
The 2008 Farm Bill requires FSIS to adopt a mandatory reporting regulation. USDA says it is also developing the rule in response to the recommendations of President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group (more on that here).
One lingering question for me as I read through the proposed rule: As far as I can tell, the proposal is silent on public access to the information that establishments would be required to submit to FSIS. Under what circumstances would FSIS promote this information on its website, and how quickly would it do so?back to Blog