Industry defends B.P.I., criticizes recent article

by Bryan Salvage
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OAKLAND, CALIF. – In a story published Dec. 30 in the New York Times, Michael Moss, a Times reporter, questioned the technology developed and used by Beef Products Inc. (B.P.I.) to ensure improved safety of beef and beef trimmings. Both the National Meat Association and the American Meat Institute defended the safety of meat; N.M.A. spoke up for B.P.I. and Eldon Roth, B.P.I.'s president, in particular.

B.P.I. is a long-time member of the National Meat Association (N.M.A.), according to Rosemary Mucklow, N.M.A. Emeritus Director. Mr. Roth has developed technology to improve the safety of beef and beef trimmings over a span of more than 35 years, applying technology using ammonia, the basic refrigerant used in all major cold-storage establishments in the food industry worldwide, N.M.A. explained in a news release. The N.Y.T. story is a very limited, one-sided view of the technology, N.M.A. charged.

“The innovative technology developed by B.P.I. is fully set forth on the company’s web site and has been hugely effective in improving the safety of meat and meat trimmings,” N.M.A. said. “It has also been effective at reducing any pathogens that may be present to non-detectable levels by adjusting the alkalinity of the product. Pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella do not survive in an alkaline pH environment.

“Mr. Roth and his team are to be commended for their very substantial contributions to ensuring the safety of meat,” N.M.A. continued. “They have done so openly, presented their research and technology for scrutiny by the U.S.D.A. and other scientists, and have demonstrated through their back-up testing that the technology is working.”

Dr. David Theno, who was quoted in the N.Y.T.’s article, said the story failed to mention Mr. Roth’s unwavering support for food-safety initiatives and that he has held his team at B.P.I. to the highest standards possible for food safety.

“Eldon Roth has been a strong leader in finding new innovative ways to ensure meat safety,” said Ms. Mucklow, who has known Mr. Roth for more than 35 years. “The technology he developed 30 years ago revolutionized the safety of raw materials with the effective application of refrigeration. He has never ceased to try to improve food safety, and he has done so with developmental genius and transparency. He is to be highly commended for his commitment.”

J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, also issued a statement following the publishing of this article pointing out the U.S. meat supply is the most regulated and inspected industry in America and U.S. meat products have an excellent food-safety record that reflects food-safety progress.

“Some media reports have painted an incomplete picture of the U.S. beef safety, in particular,” Mr. Boyle said. “The U.S. beef industry benefits by producing beef products that are as safe as we can make them,” he added. “Food-safety data show that we take our responsibility seriously. We proudly and confidently feed our families the same meat products we sell to customers in the U.S. and around the world.”

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