USDA announces new safeguards against foodborne illness

May 4, 2012

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a series of prevention-based policy measures that will better protect consumers from foodborne illness in meat and poultry products. These measures will significantly improve the ability of both plants and USDA to trace contaminated food materials in the supply chain, to act against contaminated products sooner, and to establish the effectiveness of food safety systems.

“The additional safeguards we are announcing today will improve our ability to prevent foodborne illness by strengthening our food safety infrastructure,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen. “Together, these measures will provide us with more tools to protect our food supply, resulting in stronger public health protections for consumers.”

The policy measures include the following:

  • USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) intends to implement new traceback measures in order to control pathogens earlier and prevent them from triggering foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. This proposed change in policy gives FSIS the opportunity to better prevent contaminated product from reaching consumers.
  • FSIS is implementing three provisions included in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill). The new regulations, published as a Final Rule and directed by Congress, require establishments to prepare and maintain recall procedures, to notify FSIS within 24 hours that a meat or poultry product that could harm consumers has been shipped into commerce, and to document each reassessment of their hazard control and critical control point (HACCP) system food safety plans.
  • FSIS is announcing the availability of guidance to plants on the steps that are necessary to establish that their HACCP food safety systems will work as designed to control the food safety hazards that they confront. This process, called “validation,” enables companies to ensure that their food safety systems are effective for preventing foodborne illness.

Press release