USDA JOHANNS, HHS LEAVITT HIGHLIGHT IMPORT SAFETY AT KANSAS CITY MEAT PROCESSING PLANT
Kansas City, MO, September 12, 2007 - As part of a nationwide fact-finding by the President's Interagency Working Group on Import Safety, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt today focused on import safety as it relates to meat processing, during a visit to a small meat processing plant established for 75 years in Kansas City's historic stockyard district.
"There is growing demand in the U.S. for a wider variety of foods from around the world and we are committed to ensuring our food safety system keeps pace," said Johanns. "Our goal is to continue to provide a safe and wholesome food supply and to maintain public confidence."
"Americans benefit from one of the safest food supplies, and we have among the highest standards for consumer protection in the world. Our import system does many things right and we intend to keep it that way. But we've got to continue to adapt to a rapidly growing and changing global economy. The American people have reasonable expectations that food and other products that they buy are safe. We can and should do all we can to honor that trust," said Leavitt.
Boyle's Famous Corned Beef imports meat products from several countries. These products are inspected by USDA'S Food Safety and Inspection Service at U.S. ports of entry. During further processing, products are subject to daily inspection as required in domestic federally inspected establishments to ensure safety and wholesomeness.
As the working group chair, Secretary Leavitt has investigated the effectiveness of current import safety regulations and standards. On Monday, Leavitt presented the President with an initial report in the form of a strategic framework which lays out the principles upon which more specific recommendations will be based. These recommendations will be part of an Action Plan scheduled to be released in November.
Immediately following the meat processing tour, Secretary Johanns and Secretary Leavitt met with stakeholders to discuss recommendations for import safety regulations and practices.
On October 1, 2007 USDA will host a public meeting at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Jefferson Auditorium in Washington, D.C. to provide consumers and advocates an opportunity to offer comments about import safety. Details about the public meeting and comment period, the Strategic Framework and other import safety information are available at www.importsafety.gov.