What They're Saying: Businesses and Consumer Advocates Applaud USDA Steps to Improve Meat Safety | USDA Newsroom
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News Release

Release No. 0402.11
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USDA Office of Communications (202)720-4623

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What They're Saying: Businesses and Consumer Advocates Applaud USDA Steps to Improve Meat Safety

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it is taking new steps to fight E. coli and protect the safety of the American food supply. Businesses, stakeholders and consumer advocates applauded the announcement and reiterated their commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Americans nationwide.

Craig Wilson, Vice President, Quality Assurance and Food Safety, Costco Wholesale:

"Costco is pleased and fully supports the FSIS announcement today concerning Non-O157:H7 E.coli (STEC's EHEC's) testing. Costco started actual STEC testing investigations at our plant during August, 2010 and started full time testing about 3 months ago. As the tests become more available to our suppliers the testing will become part of our overall raw material purchase specification just as O157:H7 is now. We see this announcement as the next evolution in finish product testing, helping to assure that our suppliers' processes are under control and that we all continue to supply wholesome products to the Costco membership. We know that this new step will help keep our members and the public safe."

Nancy Donley, President, STOP Foodborne Illness:

"STOP Foodborne Illness (STOP) applauds USDA's announcement today declaring six highly-virulent, pathogenic strains of E. coli as adulterants in beef products. We're pleased to see the USDA act proactively rather than in reaction to another major foodborne illness outbreak such as the case in declaring E. coli O157:H7 an adulterant in 1994. "

Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union:

"By classifying these dangerous pathogens as adulterants, the USDA is adopting a 'zero-tolerance' policy toward E. coli in meat that we have long fought for. These strains of E. coli have been identified for years as causing serious illness and even death. This higher standard will help to ensure that disease causing food is kept off store shelves and out of consumers' homes."

Craig Letch, Director of Quality Assurance, Beef Products, Inc.:

"Our goal is to provide the safest and highest quality beef. That core value is what drives everything from raw material procurement, to processing using highly effective intervention technologies, to our finished product hold and test programs. Using these newly available tests for these additional STECs will help us further ensure the safety and quality of our lean beef and that consumers are better protected from potential exposure to these harmful pathogens."

David Theno, Chairman of Gray Dog Partners, Inc., a food safety consulting firm:

"The agency should be commended for their proactive approach to responding to an emerging problem without it becoming a national crisis. There will undoubtedly be much controversy about the program, but the agency's prime responsibility is to ensure the safety of the products for which they are responsible, and they have acted to do just that."

Carol Tucker-Foreman, Consumer Federation of America:

"The Obama Administration's announcement that ground beef contaminated with any of six additional disease-causing strains of E. coli bacteria is adulterated and must be removed from the market may be the biggest change in meat and poultry safety in the last fifteen years. The decision is consistent with the principles laid out by the President in his March 2009 television speech on food safety programs. He said then that there are certain things that we can't do on our own and that government must step in to address. One of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat are safe and don't cause us harm. Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen and her team made the case for this action and it was persuasive enough, and the program details reasonable enough, to overcome fierce industry and trading partner opposition."

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