WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today celebrated 100 years of protecting consumers by commemorating the Centennial Anniversary of the signing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).
"Today, we commemorate the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt's signing of the historic legislation that significantly improved the safety of our nation's food supply," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner. "As we stand on the threshold of the second century of ensuring the safety of America's meat, poultry and egg products, we take pride in our achievements in public health protection and look forward to strengthening our commitment to safeguarding future generations."
On June 30, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the FMIA into law, requiring that meat products be inspected and that federally inspected slaughterhouses and processing plants operate under sanitary conditions.
"In 1906, early childhood mortality in America was high from maladies now largely overcome and rare because of laws like the FMIA," said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond. "By incorporating science to an unprecedented degree, we are more effectively anticipating and eliminating threats to public health today and in the future."
Conner and Raymond participated in a ceremony held on the patio of USDA's Jamie Whitten Federal Building, which also featured remarks by FSIS Administrator Dr. Barbara Masters and Anthony Arthur, author of a recently released biography of Upton Sinclair, whose book The Jungle is credited with spurring passage of the FMIA. A certificate of appreciation was also presented to the grandson of former Indiana Senator Albert J. Beveridge, the co-author and chief senate sponsor of the legislation that became the FMIA.
Today, more than 7,600 FSIS inspection program personnel are assigned to about 6,000 federally inspected meat, poultry and egg products facilities in the United States to ensure products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled. FSIS also inspects each shipment of imported meat and poultry from qualified countries to ensure U.S. food safety requirements are met.
FSIS incorporates the results of more than 90,000 microbiological tests annually for E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes to further the goal of preventing contamination and protecting public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attributed significant declines in rates of illness from foodborne pathogens to the implementation of FSIS food safety regulations.
The centennial celebration featured a documentary video chronicling the history of meat inspection and food safety. The video incorporated historic photographs and artifacts, as well as footage from the Johnson and Eisenhower administrations, in telling the colorful and historically significant history of U.S. meat inspection and food safety from 1906 through the present day.
FSIS has also honored the centennial anniversary of the FMIA with a Web page dedicated to the people and complex history of inspection. The people, the policies and the evolution of FSIS' authorities, and its relationship to other Agencies within USDA, are detailed in an entertaining format. The Web page can be found at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/About_FSIS/100_Years/.