WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jon Tester recently introduced his Meat Safety and Accountability Act, which he claims would significantly improve the ability to trace the original source of contaminated meat.

At present, contaminated meat products are traced back to the packing plant or butcher shop they came from, but dangerous food contamination often begins earlier in the supply chain—at the slaughterhouse, he added.

Mr. Tester’s legislation would require the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service to design and implement – using its existing budget – an initiative to trace contaminated meat back to the original source of contamination. He claims the bill also improves testing at meat suppliers and individual meat processors in the case of an outbreak.

This legislation is designed to hold “the right people accountable when something goes wrong,” such as potentially life-threatening outbreaks of E. coli or salmonella contamination, Mr. Tester said.

“This bill puts more common sense and fairness into the equation as our food travels through the supply chain to the kitchen table,” he added. “This bill will make our food safer to eat by ramping up accountability. And it will help small meat processors in rural America that too often get blamed for contamination that didn’t begin with them.”

According to Mr. Tester, he wrote the bill after working closely with John Munsell, a former meat-plant owner and current manager of the Foundation for Accountability in Regulatory Enforcement.

“As long as the Department of Agriculture resists tracing back to the slaughterhouse of origin, American consumers are guaranteed to experience ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls,” said Mr. Munsell. “Senator Tester is to be commended for his willingness to challenge the U.S.D.A. on this public health issue.”

The Meat Safety and Accountability Act next goes to the Senate Agriculture Committee.