USDA to publish plant-specific food safety data

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture announced plans to publish detailed food safety data that is specific to slaughter and processing facilities. The new datasets will appear on Data.gov on a quarterly basis 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) initially will share information on processes used at each facility, providing more detail than is currently listed in the searchable establishment directory. FSIS also will provide a code for each facility that will make it easier to sort and combine future datasets by facility. Additionally, FSIS will release results for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and Salmonella in ready-to-eat (RTE) products and processed egg products.

Other datasets FSIS will make public include results for E. coli (STEC) and Salmonella in raw, non-intact beef products; results for Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and young turkeys, comminuted poultry and chicken parts; routine chemical residue testing data in meat and poultry; and advance meat recovery testing data.

Some outcomes FSIS expects to come from sharing food safety data include allowing consumers to make informed choices about the meat and poultry products they buy while motivating individual processors to improve their food-safety performance, thus facilitating industry-wide performance through improved insights into the strengths and weaknesses of different practices.

“FSIS’ food safety inspectors collect vast amounts of data at food producing facilities every day, which we analyze on an ongoing basis to detect emerging public health risks and create better policies to prevent foodborne illness,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said in a statement. “Consumers want more information about the foods they are purchasing, and sharing these details can give them better insight into food production and inspection, and help them make informed purchasing decisions.”

Details of FSIS’s framework for releasing the data are available in the agency’s Establishment-Specific Data Release Plan.

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