WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is being urged by the American Meat Institute to act on A.M.I.’s request to implement a policy requiring companies to hold product tested by the Food Safety and Inspection Service until the test results are known.
J. Patrick Boyle, A.M.I. president and chief executive officer, stated in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that more than 80% of the recalls due to the presence of E. coli O157:H7 and all recalls due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes so far this year could have been prevented if the product tested for adulterants by either the establishment or F.S.I.S. had not entered commerce until test results were available.
A.M.I. has consistently recommended companies adopt the practice of controlling sampled product to avoid a recall in the event the test result is positive, Mr. Boyle said. In 2005, A.M.I., and several other organizations — with assistance and encouragement from F.S.I.S. — mailed a best-practices document to every small and very small federally inspected establishment urging them to control tested product until the results are known.
"Enhancing food safety is the Institute’s top priority," Mr. Boyle said. "We hope you will join the industry in supporting a policy that product tested by F.S.I.S., subject to company lotting and control procedures, not be allowed to enter, or be used in product that would enter, commerce until the test results become available. Such a policy should not consist of agency retention of any F.S.I.S.-tested product, but rather require a company to utilize its own effective control measures that ensure the product is not used or distributed for sale before the test results are known."